zenduck.me: Thierry Henry and Micah Richards criticise Romelu Lukaku suspension for reaction to racist abuse

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Thierry Henry and Micah Richards have criticised the Italian Football Federation’s decision to uphold Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku’s red card he was issued after responding to racist abuse from a section of Juventus fans.

Lukaku, who had been the victim of racist chanting from home supporters throughout the game, scored a 95th-minute penalty to earn Inter a draw on April 4 and proceeded to celebrate the goal by shushing the home fans.

Referee Davide Massa decided to issue the Belgium international a second yellow card, a decision that the federation upheld meaning the 29-year-old will be suspended for the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Juve on April 26.

Henry and Richards, who both played in Italy during their careers, launched an emotional defence of Lukaku, condemning the decision to suspend him.

Speaking on CBS, Henry, who has been the face of several global campaigns against racism in football, said: “It (racism) is everywhere. It always has been and it looks like it always will be.

“I go back to common sense. With what the guy (Lukaku) has been hearing. He shushes the crowd and gets a yellow? Really? Have a bit of empathy.

“If you see a guy is getting abused and he just stands there in a stoic manner. Yes he was cocky and arrogant, but he did it tonight (against Benfica) and did he get a yellow? It is the same celebration. I would have done worse than him if I was getting abuse on the field. The Italian federation keeps the yellow and we are talking about common sense?

“It is not only Italy. I suffered it everywhere and every time it was always the reaction that got punished.

“I have had enough of looking at the ‘No to Racism’ logos on our shirts. I have had enough of the lousy pictures before the game. Can we please do something about this?”

This incident was not the first time that Lukaku has been the victim of racist abuse in Italy.

The striker, who is on a season-long loan from Chelsea, responded to the incident on Instagram by saying: “History repeats. Been through it in 2019 and 2023 again. I hope the league take action for real this time because this beautiful game should be enjoyed by everyone.”

Richards says he is tired of always having to talk about racism in football and described the Italian Football Federation’s decision as “degrading.”

The 34-year-old said: “He is celebrating a goal like he does every single week. The referee (Massa) could have dealt with that situation better. He heard what was being said from the crowd and he still decided to send him off. I don’t understand and then for the Italian FA to uphold the yellow card, it is almost like they are condoning the situation.

“I am sick and tired of always having to talk about this but until real change is implemented, we are going to be talking about this over and over again and it is tiring.”

“We come to play football and enjoy ourselves but we are having to deal with this constantly.”

Lukaku scored in Inter’s 2-0 victory over Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday and repeated the same celebration. He was not issued a yellow card.


Lukaku reps want action after ‘disgusting racist abuse’

(Photo: Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)