Lukaku's ban overturned in statement against racism


Romelu Lukaku of FC Internazionale in action during the FC Internazionale training session at the club's training ground Suning Training Center on April 22, 2023 in Como, Italy. 

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku will play in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Juventus after his one-match ban was overturned by the president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) as a measure to fight racism.

Inter expressed their disappointment on Friday when Italy’s Sports Court of Appeal upheld the ban for Lukaku, imposed after he was sent off in the first leg after a ‘hush’ gesture to fans who targeted him with racial abuse.

FIGC President Gabriele Gravina overturned the suspension after evaluating the report of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

The report indicated “unequivocally that the behaviour of the player sanctioned by the match director followed the serious and repeated displays of hatred and racial discrimination by the opposing fans”, the FIGC statement said.

“The measure reiterates how the fight against all forms of racism constitutes one of the founding principles of the sporting system.”

Lukaku was happy with the decision, saying the president had shown great sensitivity to the situation.

“I believe that thanks to his intervention justice has been done and this sends out a great message to the whole world of sport and beyond,” Lukaku said.

“This has shown that the desire is there to fight racism.”

The striker was subjected to racial abuse during the first leg at Juventus “before, during, and after the penalty” he scored to earn Inter a 1-1 draw, the player’s representatives said.

Lukaku was then sent off after receiving a second yellow card for his goal celebration during which he held his finger up to his mouth in front of Juve fans, a gesture which was judged to be provocative.

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