Both AS Roma and AC Milan have issued a ban on Corriere dello Sport, in response to a racially insensitive headline from Italian newspaper regarding stars Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.
The front page headline on Thursday’s edition of Corriere dello Sport read ‘Black Friday’, accompanied by pictures of in-form ex-Man Utd teammates Lukaku and Smalling, who are set to face each other when Inter and Roma play on Friday.
The headline sparked a backlash, with the two clubs issuing statements criticising the publication. However, Corriere dello Sport defended its choice of words, taking aim at ‘casual moralists’ in response.
Now Roma and AC Milan have issued a joint statement banning Corriere dello Sport from their training grounds and media activities with players for the rest of the month.
The joint statement, found on the clubs’ websites, reads: “We believe that players, clubs, supporters and the media must be united in the fight against racism in football and we all have a responsibility to be very precise in the words we choose and the messages we deliver.
“In response to the ‘Black Friday’ headline published today by the newspaper, Milan and Roma have decided to ban Corriere dello Sport from our training facilities for the rest of the year and our players will not carry out any media activities with the newspaper during this period.
“Both clubs are aware that the actual newspaper article associated with the ‘Black Friday’ headline did portray an anti-racist message and for this reason, we have only banned Corriere dello Sport until January.”
Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello said he was ‘ashamed’ to read the headline, while Smalling released his own statement on social media, calling it ‘wrong and highly insensitive’.
Lukaku and Smalling previously played together at Manchester United, prior to their summer moves to Serie A.
Both have started the 2019/20 season well, with Lukaku scoring ten in 13 starts in Serie A so far this season, while Chris Smalling has received plaudits for his own high standards.