Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan striker has ban overturned after being racially abused

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Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has had his one-match ban overturned by the Italian Football Federation as a measure to fight racism. He was sent off in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg 11 days ago after he scored a penalty and held his finger to his lips in front of Juventus fans. It was a response to being racially abused “before, during, and after the penalty”, his representatives said.

Lukaku said: “I believe… justice has been done.” Italy’s Sports Court of Appeal upheld the ban but FIGC president Gabriele Gravina stepped in after assessing the Federal Prosecutor’s Office report. 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 read. “The measure reiterates how the fight against all forms of racism constitutes one of the founding principles of the sporting system.”

Lukaku, who was shown a second yellow card because his celebration was deemed to be provocative, is now available to play in the second leg with the tie level at 1-1. Lukaku praised Gravina’s intervention and added: “This sends out a great message to the whole world of sport and beyond. “This has shown that the desire is there to fight racism.”

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