AC Milan are set to launch an anti-racism task force to tackle discrimination in Italian football.

Milan's initiative had been several months in planning but, following several high-profile incidents in Italian football, they accelerated matters to launch at the Derby della Madonnina against bitter rivals Inter on Saturday.

The contest has been rebranded the "Derby Against Racism", as the Rossoneri aim to "demonstrate solidarity with some of the most high-profile targets of the negative behaviour".

The decision to bring the announcement forward comes in the wake of Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku suffering alleged racist abuse during matches in September.

An Italian football pundit was also suspended from television show TopCalcio24 for using a racist remark when praising the performances of Lukaku.

Announcing the campaign, Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis said: "Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviour.

"AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue, promoting basic human values that are relevant to us all. Football provides a powerful example of the strength of unity and teamwork.

"Diversity, inclusion and tolerance enhance the strength of the team, the club and of society as a whole. We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.

"This first significant step aims to visibly demonstrate that we will be proactive in our efforts to tackle racism in football. These values transcend football rivalries and we are delighted to have the support of Inter for this initiative."

Cagliari will not be punished for racist abuse aimed at Inter striker Romelu Lukaku, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has confirmed.

Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants as he prepared to take a penalty in the Serie A meeting between the sides earlier this month.

Cagliari subsequently vowed to ban the supporters responsible but rejected "silly stereotypes" about the behaviour of their fans, while Lukaku called on football authorities and players to "unify" in the fight against racism.

The FIGC said it would investigate the incident but on Tuesday its Giudice Sportivo panel ruled Cagliari would not be punished over the abuse aimed at the Belgium international.

"The head of the public order stated that police of Cagliari had spotted that in the phases preceding the penalty kick, and only on that occasion, from the sector "Curva Nord", usually occupied by the home supporters, there were chants, shouts and arguments against the athlete Lukaku, who was preparing for the penalty," said a statement. 

But it was concluded the club would not be punished due to the "size" of the chanting and the perception that there was too much shouting and whistling to identify its "discriminatory" nature.

Cagliari, however, were fined €5,000 after fans launched plastic bottles on to the pitch against Inter.

The abuse aimed at Lukaku is the fourth high-profile occasion Cagliari have been involved in such incidents in just over two years.

In May 2017, Pescara's Sulley Muntari was booked for complaining to the referee about racism and was later given a one-match ban for walking off the pitch, while Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi claimed in January 2018 he was abused.

Last season Matuidi's then club-mate Moise Kean was targeted with the Sardinia club escaping punishment as Serie A felt the chants "had an objectively limited relevance to race".

Meanwhile, Italian sports pundit Luciano Passirani, who was suspended by television channel TopCalcio24 after saying the only way to stop Lukaku was to give him "10 bananas", has denied being racist.

He told Corriere dello Sport: "I have been in the world of football for 40 years and have never received a suspension for behaviour in any of the roles I have held, but I accept the decision made against me.

"I would not like to pass for a racist. My partner who has lived with me for 17 years is black, I have two black grand-daughters. I am not a racist and I believe I am an educated person in every respect.

"In my career I met so many black players and I never had any problems."

The president of the Italian Referees' Association (AIA) has called for stadiums to be shut and individuals jailed to combat racism, but said it should not be down to match officials to deal with the issue.

Marcello Nicchi waded into the debate around racism in Italian football that reared its head again when Romelu Lukaku was abused by Cagliari fans during Inter's 2-1 victory on September 1.

The incident followed a similar one at Cagliari last season, when then-Juventus striker Moise Kean was targeted by some home fans, and Nicchi called for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to implement existing procedures and restrict attendance at grounds where abuse occurs.

Nicchi, a former referee who has been president of the AIA since 2009, told Corriere dello Sport: "There are procedures in place and they need to be applied, as set out by the FIGC, to shut down certain sections of the stadium.

"We referees have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders to deal with the game, but it's important here to clear the air and state the situation with absolute certainty: you cannot dump this problem on the referees.

"The referees will not change their attitude in this area."

Nicchi also called for solidarity with the victims of abuse after a week in which a group of Inter fans suggested the monkey chants directed at Lukaku were not racist but "a form of respect".

Lukaku said racism in football is a problem that "must be answered", and Nicchi said Serie A clubs have the resources they need to take stronger action.

"The most important thing is not to underestimate the problem," said Nicchi.

"I feel racists should be identified immediately, stopped and put in jail. It would serve as a deterrent, I am sure of it.

"There are dozens and dozens of CCTV cameras inside stadiums now, not to mention observers from the league and the police. Even the local council could get involved.

"We know full well who is in the stadium, who is leading the chants. All we need is the genuine desire to take action and it can be done.

"I also want to point out that the players insulted must never feel alone. We show full solidarity with those players who were shamefully abused.

"Evidently, we need exemplary punishment. Let's get the first person to hurl racist abuse at a black player, throw him in prison and see what happens then. The time has come to take serious action."

England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is at a loss in the battle to stop racist abuse, convinced "nothing changes" regardless of how many players speak out.

Rashford is one of several high-profile players across Europe to be subjected to abuse over the last month, with the forward targeted on social media after missing a penalty against Crystal Palace.

United team-mate Paul Pogba was the victim of similar abuse after he also failed to convert a spot-kick five days earlier, while monkey chants could be heard when Romelu Lukaku – who left Old Trafford for Inter in pre-season – scored from the spot against Cagliari on Sunday.

Rashford recognised the importance to speak out about such matters, but the 21-year-old feels helpless, convinced people will continue to be disrespectful as long as they are protected by anonymity and urged those in power do more to clamp down on offenders.

"It is disappointing. It seems to me that things are going backwards rather than forwards," Rashford told reporters on Friday ahead of England's match against Bulgaria.

"All around the world people are standing together and that is all we can do. We have to rely on the campaigns to deal with this. Our voice only has so much power.

"Social media is a big problem. For me, it is too easy to do what you like on the internet. Anyone can go on and write what we want.

"It is easy to figure it out. There are hundreds of thousands who use my profile and they can write what they want [in reply to tweets]. There are a lot of things that need to change.

"I've never been a big fan of social media. I try and stay away from it, but it's important for me to say my part. There's been other people too, Romelu, Jadon [Sancho] did a good speech the other day.

"I have always said, the more we speak about it, it doesn't have an impact. There are examples where people have spoken out and nothing has really changed.

"To see it spike in the last couple of months is unbelievable. We want to nip it in the bud."

It was mentioned to Rashford that Twitter plans to monitor the accounts of 50 leading black players in an attempt to tackle racism, but the United youth product is adamant it will make no difference.

"That doesn't change anything," he continued. "What I said before, the number of accounts out there is ridiculous.

"The way to control it is for everyone in the world who use these platforms only have one account. They use dummy accounts, so their identity is never seen."

Romelu Lukaku has repeated his call for more to be done to fight racism in football after he was targeted by monkey chants in a game at Cagliari.

On his second Serie A appearance for Inter, Lukaku was subjected to racist abuse while preparing to take a penalty, which he converted to win the game 2-1.

Lukaku subsequently used social media to ask football authorities and players to "unify" in the fight against racism, with Cagliari having been involved in similar incidents involving Blaise Matuidi and Moise Kean in recent years.

Racism has also been a problem in the opening weeks of the Premier League campaign with Paul Pogba, Kurt Zouma and Marcus Rashford among those targeted with abuse on social media.

Asked if players should leave the field if targeted by fans, Lukaku told Rolling Stone: "No. But I think he has to take a stand, yes.

"Because racism is something that must be answered. Look at England, where several things have happened to players from Manchester United and Chelsea in recent weeks: the question must be addressed.

"Football is something international, multicultural. If you really want to attract the best players in the world, you must welcome them with open arms, because in turn the athletes must adapt to the culture in which they arrive. Therefore it is fundamental not to discriminate, and to appreciate what one brings with his presence.

"I think it was a great thing for the club to launch a campaign like BUU - Brothers Universally United. And if they want my contribution, I'll give it to them. If I hear racist chants, I will answer. But my thoughts today are on the football field, to help my team-mates win."

Lukaku's former Manchester United team-mate Chris Smalling, who joined Roma on loan, has also spoken out against racism.

"I think racism is unacceptable and should not be stood for," Smalling told reporters on Friday. "It is not an issue just in Italy, it is around the world.

"There needs to be a change, there will be generational changes and younger people will have a different perspective. But it does happen, not just in Italy but around the world, and it is very sad and unacceptable that it still happens in these modern times."

Lukaku initially thrived at United but found his opportunities limited last season under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the striker scoring two goals in two Serie A games since joining Inter.

"First of all, my decision is about sport. Inter was the club I wanted to play for in Italy and the coach [Antonio Conte] was an important element in my choice, besides the fact that I knew the team had some excellent players," Lukaku said.

"But even from a family point of view it was a good choice, because my brother [Jordan] is already here. I think Italy is a nice place to live, I am a person who likes to discover different cultures: not only playing in different football leagues but learning different cultures.

"This is why I am very happy to be here."

Blaise Matuidi has called for meaningful action to be taken after Inter striker Romelu Lukaku became the latest player to be racially abused in a game at Cagliari.

Lukaku appeared to be the subject of monkey chants from the stands at Sardegna Arena on Sunday as he scored from the penalty spot in his side's 2-1 Serie A win.

It was the fourth high-profile incident involving Cagliari fans in just over two years, with Juve midfielder Matuidi previously targeted, along with Moise Kean and Sulley Muntari.

The Italian Football Federation and FIFA were quick to condemn the crowd's conduct, but Matuidi has urged the governing bodies to take firm action against the minority responsible.

"Racism in Italy? I already had this problem," the France international said at a news conference on Thursday. "There was the Lukaku problem. It was also in the same stadium.

"I think there must be some measures [taken]. It has no place in football. And in all sports even - and even in life. We don't like to see that. 

"This is not a good example for the young people, for our children. We will do everything so that it is no longer the case, even if it is difficult because it concerns a minority. 

"But this minority of people has no place in the stadiums. We have bodies that are there to make decisions and I think it's up to them to make the right decisions."

Matuidi was strongly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain during the transfer window but, having started Juve's opening two Serie A matches, he dismissed rumours he was ever close to leaving.

"I always declared that I was comfortable at Juventus, one of the best clubs in the world," he said.

"Paris will always have a place in my heart. I have supported PSG since I was a child and wearing their jersey was a dream. But now I'm proud to be at Juve."

The 32-year-old is part of France's squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.

Aymeric Laporte and Paul Pogba have withdrawn from the initial squad, while Tanguy Ndombele and N'Golo Kante were not considered for selection due to fitness concerns, but Matuidi insisted others can step up for the world champions.

"We are lucky to have a huge pool, with a lot of high-quality players," he said. "There are important players who are absent, but there are others who are there and who have proved for their club that they can bring a lot. 

"We have great confidence in this group and we are able to win despite absences.

"[The absentees] should not be an excuse. We have 23 players and must be successful and win these two games, especially at home. When we wear the jersey of the French team, we always play to win."

Racism is a systemic issue in Italian football and authorities must do more to protect players, according to the Fare network.

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was targeted by monkey chants as he prepared to take a penalty in a Serie A game away to Cagliari on Sunday.

Cagliari have a history of racist incidents, with Moise Kean, Blaise Matuidi and Sulley Muntari having previously received abuse.

Fare, an umbrella organisation which aims to combat inequality in football, called on Italian authorities to step up in the fight against racism.

"We have been appalled to see yet another incident of racism in Italy in the form of abuse aimed at Inter forward Romelu Lukaku at the Cagliari v Inter Serie A game," said a Fare statement.

"The abuse directed at Lukaku is one in a long list of incidents in Italian football over the past year and highlights the repeated failure to protect minority players and to tackle what is a systemic issue in Italian football.

"Sunday's events have followed a familiar pattern in Italy in which players are abused, the referee fails to protect them and the authorities take insufficient action.

"The response from Cagliari, the Italian FA and Inter ultras has been to deny its significance and take ineffective action.

"Videos circulating on social media show that monkey chants are clearly audible. The Italian FA and Serie A have this footage, it is clear evidence and the basis on which to take action that sends a strong message.

"We believe that dealing with racism should be a priority for the Italian FA. A plan of action monitored by international governing bodies UEFA and FIFA is needed. If such a plan is not developed they should face special measures and ultimately suspension."

Lilian Thuram and Vincent Kompany are among those to have spoken out in support of Lukaku since the incident.

Lilian Thuram has questioned whether football chiefs will ever back up outraged words with firm actions after Inter striker Romelu Lukaku became the latest player to suffer racist abuse.

World Cup winner Thuram says a culture of white supremacy is the underlying cause of the spate of racist incidents blighting football.

As well as incidents in stadiums, a rising tide of social media abuse of black players has tarnished the glossy image of the modern game.

Thuram, a black Frenchman born in Guadeloupe, played for 10 years in Italy with Parma and then Juventus.

He has been politically active since his playing days, speaking out often against racism in sport and issues of inequality in society.

Former Manchester United striker Lukaku faced abuse when playing for Inter at Cagliari on Sunday, with the Italian Football Federation and FIFA quick to condemn the crowd conduct.

But in an interview with Corriere dello Sport, Thuram questioned: "For how many years have there been such reactions after such events?

"In the end everyone thinks it's something serious, but a solution has yet to be found.

"If we talk about it for many years, but nothing can be done, it means there is tremendous hypocrisy and there is no will to solve the problem."

He added: "Everyone says, 'Let's do something,' but nobody really does anything. And the racists believe they are right."

He claimed anyone who fails to back up their words by acting decisively is effectively complicit, but that there are ways of encouraging societal shifts.

"In France, for example, the referees interrupt the games in the event of homophobia in the stands: to suspend the game and send the two teams to the changing room can educate people. In Italy I don't remember any such strong positions," he said.

Thuram, now 47, retired as a player in 2008 after a two-year stint at Barcelona.

He was a member of France's triumphant 1998 World Cup team and believes white-against-black racism is endemic in large parts of the world.

"We need to be aware that the world of football is not racist, but that there is racism in Italian, French, European and more generally in white culture," Thuram said.

"Whites have decided they are superior to blacks and that they can do anything with them. It is something that has been going on for centuries unfortunately. And to change a culture is not easy."

Demba Ba has urged black players to abandon Serie A after Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racism within days of joining Inter.

Former Manchester United striker Lukaku faced abuse from the stands as his new club won 2-1 away against Cagliari at Sardegna Arena on Sunday.

The incident, which came as Lukaku prepared to take a penalty, has been widely condemned outside Italy, and the Royal Belgian Football Association ran a newspaper advert in support of its player on Wednesday.

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini promised stadium bans could be enforced if the racists are identified, but he said that "fighting ignorance is difficult" and argued closing sections of grounds would not be the correct response.

In a startling statement, Inter's Curva Nord supporters claimed the abuse of Lukaku from Cagliari fans was not racist but "a form of respect".

That message prompted Senegalese striker Ba to propose decisive action.

Ba, who was linked with a move to Inter five years ago during his Chelsea career, quote-tweeted the Inter fans' statement and wrote: "And here's the reason why I decided not to play there when I could... And at that point I wish all the black players would get out of this league! Surely it won't stop their stupidity and hate but at least they won't affect other races."

Cagliari's fans were previously involved in racist chants directed at Pescara's Sulley Muntari in 2017, Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi in 2018 and former Juve forward Moise Kean this year.

Serie A did not punish Cagliari over the Kean incident, despite saying it was "reprehensible". Investigations are continuing after the abuse aimed at Lukaku.

Lukaku, who is on Belgium duty this week, may have greater confidence in the Belgian authorities' determination to stamp out racism.

Belgian FA chief executive Peter Bossaert said on Wednesday: "Racism is intolerable and it is really sad to see that we still have to fight this plague in 2019. But we will do so and continue to do so.

"Racism must disappear from the world of football, from stadiums and from society. When one of our players, like Romelu Lukaku, is targeted by racist acts, we feel concerned.

"We find it important to express our support and take a clear stand against all forms of racism and discrimination on and around the pitches."

The Belgian FA said it would invite young people to take part in a "brainstorming exercise" in October to look at the problem of discrimination and racist chanting.

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini said "closing curvas isn't the answer" to ending racism in Serie A after Inter star Romelu Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants last week.

Racism reared its ugly head again in Italy, where Lukaku was racially abused during Inter's 2-1 win away to Cagliari at Sardegna Arena on Sunday.

The incident, which came as Lukaku stepped up to convert a second-half penalty, sparked widespread condemnation of Cagliari – whose fans were also previously involved in racist chants directed at Pescara's Sulley Muntari (2017), Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi (2018) and former Juve forward Moise Kean (2019).

Inter's Curva Nord supporters claimed alleged abuse of striker Lukaku from Cagliari fans was not racist but "a form of respect".

Amid growing calls for Italian authorities to crack down on racism and Cagliari, Giulini told Radio Popolare: "We're trying to work in a serious way, through the awareness of our stewards who will have to report people to DIGOS [a law enforcement agency].

"It's not easy to lipread with technology: we'll also ask the decent fans for help, that is 99.9 per cent of Cagliari supporters.

"Fighting ignorance is difficult, so we can only raise awareness. This incident has caused huge anger and frustration in us for all the initiatives we're carrying out. We were the first to introduce a school for young fans.

"Cagliari isn't a racist city at all. I'm so sorry that this image of us has also gone abroad. I hope we aren't banned. Closing curvas isn't the answer: as I said before, stewards must be made aware.

"I won't rule out, however, that any of my stewards saw something or a camera identified someone chanting. Once they're recognised, these people could be denied entry if they try to re-enter the stadium."

Former Pescara midfielder Marco Verratti – who now plays for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain – said games must be stopped for racism.

"You have to stop games because otherwise we won't go anywhere," the Italy international told Rai Sport.

"I know it's a big step to take, but we have to do it because otherwise those 4-5 stupid people will always be there.

"Lukaku's appeal was right. It's up to us players to show we can be role models for all ages. We carry great influence. If it starts with us, that's a good thing."

Inter's Curva Nord supporters have claimed alleged abuse of striker Romelu Lukaku from Cagliari fans was not racist but "a form of respect".

Lukaku, who joined Inter in a club-record deal from Manchester United last month, appeared to be the subject of monkey chants from Cagliari supporters as he scored in the Nerazzurri's 2-1 Serie A away win on Sunday.

The Belgium international later called for players to "unify" against discrimination, with Cagliari fans accused of singling out other black players in the past, notably Sulley Muntari, Blaise Matuidi and Moise Kean.

However, the Curva Nord fans at San Siro – a vocal section of the Inter support –have responded to Lukaku's comments with an open letter addressed to their club's new signing.

The supporters defended Cagliari and claimed racism is not a "real problem" in Italy.

The letter, posted on the group's Facebook page, begins: "Hi Romelu. We are writing to you on behalf of the Curva Nord; yes, the guys who welcomed you on your arrival in Milan.

"We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist. You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a real problem."

The group continue, claiming such chants are common to "help our teams", adding: "We are not racist and so nor are the Cagliari fans."

Attempting to explain the abuse, the supporters suggest Lukaku was pinpointed because his talent made him a threat to Cagliari.

"Please consider this attitude of Italian fans as a form of respect for the fact they are afraid of you for the goals you might score against their teams and not because they hate you or they are racist," the Curva Nord said.

They add that claims of racism support the "repression of all football fans" by highlighting "a problem that is not really there".

England international Jadon Sancho offered Lukaku his support following the incident, saying the Inter star "handled it really well by not reacting and carrying on playing".

The issue of racism has come to the fore in English football in recent weeks, with a number of black Premier League players subjected to abuse on social media.

Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham were all targeted following missed penalties, while Kurt Zouma was abused after scoring an own goal.

England winger Jadon Sancho fears players will start to fall out of love with football if instances of racism continue to blight the game.

On Sunday, Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was targeted by monkey chants before he converted a decisive penalty in his team's 2-1 win over Cagliari in Serie A.

It marked the latest flashpoint of recent weeks, where the likes of Paul Pogba, Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma have all suffered online abuse.

Speaking to reporters after joining up with England for their Euro 2020 qualifiers, Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho praised Lukaku's defiant response in Sardinia but expressed long-term fears over the consequences should such sickening incidents continue to occur.

"I personally think that it just has to stop," he said. "No player wants to play football and have abuse like that.

"It puts the confidence down in players and the love of the sport will go very soon if it doesn't stop.

"Everyone should be happy and do what they are doing without receiving racial abuse. I don't think it is [just] social media.

"Some fans are just really passionate and obviously they say what they want to say. I feel they need to slow it down a bit - we're still only human.

"Just because we play football people might think we are just famous and ignorant to that but we just love the sport and just want to play.

"It is hard to see things like this because it feels like 'why should we play football?'. I felt that Romelu Lukaku handled it really well by not reacting and carrying on playing."

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini also fielded questions on the Lukaku abuse ahead of his team's matches against Armenia and Finland.

"We all hope not to hear those racist chants but it still happens here in Italy, like in England as well unfortunately," said the former Manchester City manager.

"Unfortunately, there are unintelligent people in the stadiums. Lukaku is right saying that in 2019 these kinds of things shouldn't happen. By now we should have got rid of these things."

On Monday, Lukaku issued a statement calling for footballers to unify against racism and for social media companies to do more to combat discrimination.

Mancini added: "I think that the majority of people in football are already working in this direction to do all they can to improve the situation about racism.

"We all hope that those people who make these mistakes nowadays will understand it's wrong and, with time, won't do it anymore.

"But I'm afraid that there will always be some unintelligent people repeating the same mistakes, unfortunately."

Cagliari vowed to ban the supporters responsible for racially abusing Romelu Lukaku in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Inter but rejected "silly stereotypes" about the behaviour of their fans.

Lukaku's second-half penalty secured Inter's victory, however the match was marred by monkey chants coming from fans behind the goal as the striker prepared to take his kick. 

He glared back at the supporters in question instead of celebrating after converting and it was the latest in a string of such incidents involving Cagliari and the fourth high-profile occasion in just over two years.

In May 2017, Pescara's Sulley Muntari was booked for complaining to the referee about racist abuse from Cagliari fans, later being given a one-match ban for walking off the pitch in protest. The club avoided punishment because "approximately 10" people were involved.

Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi claimed in January 2018 he was abused away to Cagliari and last season his then team-mate Moise Kean was targeted, the Sardinia club escaping punishment because Serie A felt the chants "had an objectively limited relevance to race".

Despite the regularity of such incidents, Cagliari denounced "silly" stereotypes of their fans.

"Cagliari Calcio firmly rejects what happened Sunday night at the Sardegna Arena during the game vs. Inter," the statement began.

"The club underlines - once again - its intention to identify, isolate and ban those ignorant individuals whose shameful actions and behaviours are completely against the values that Cagliari strongly promotes in all their initiatives. Every single day.

"Cagliari does not want to underplay what occurred, endorses the respectable moral values of its people from all the stadium sections, but firmly rejects the outrageous charge and silly stereotypes addressed to Cagliari supporters and the Sardinian people, which are absolutely unacceptable."

Lukaku released a statement earlier on Monday calling for greater action from social media and federation stakeholders, which Cagliari echoed.

"Full solidarity to Romelu Lukaku and even stronger commitment towards annihilating one of the worst plagues that affects football and our world in general," the statement continued.

"However, as we are aware that technology is not enough, we believe our commitment needs a real support by the rest of the football stakeholders; starting from all the true supporters, to all the stewards in the stands; from police and security agents, passing to media and as well through Lega Serie A and FIGC [Italian Football Federation].

"Cagliari is asking you all [for] solid help to win a battle that involves everyone. No one excluded."

Romelu Lukaku urged footballers to unify against racism and demanded social media companies do more to combat discrimination after the striker was abused by Cagliari fans on Sunday.

Inter won 2-1 in Sardinia thanks to Lukaku's second-half penalty, but monkey chants could be heard coming from fans behind the goal as the Belgium international prepared to take his kick.

After scoring, he glared back at the supporters in question instead of celebrating.

It was the fourth high-profile incident involving Cagliari fans in just over two years, with Sulley Muntari, Blaise Matuidi and Moise Kean all targeted in the past.

Lukaku's former Manchester United team-mates Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba have been targeted by racial abuse on social media this season, and Lukaku is demanding a greater effort from necessary stakeholders to stamp out discrimination.

"Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse," Lukaku wrote on his official Instagram account. "I did yesterday [Sunday], too.

"Football is a game to be enjoyed by everyone and we shouldn't accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame.

"I hope the football federations all over the world react strongly on all cases of discrimination!!!

"Social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) need to work better as well with football clubs, because everyday you see at least one racist comment under a post of a person of colour. We've been saying it for years and still no action.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's 2019. Instead of going forward, we're going backwards, and I think as players we need [to] unify and make a statement on this matter to keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone."

Cagliari released a statement on Monday condemning the chants and vowed to ban those responsible.

 

Romelu Lukaku revelled in his goalscoring display to lead Inter to a second successive Serie A win, despite being the victim of racial abuse against Cagliari.

Lukaku scored his second goal of the season after arriving from Manchester United as Inter defeated Cagliari 2-1 on Sunday but the victory was soured by racist chants.

Monkey chants were directed at Lukaku as Inter's club-record signing stepped up to convert a 72nd-minute penalty at the Sardegna Arena.

Amid widespread condemnation, Lukaku told Inter TV: "I'm very happy about these first two league victories and about tonight's success.

"It was a tough match, we had to fight but that's what we'll have to do in every game, I'm happy for the team and for our fans.

"To score wearing this shirt is a great feeling, I want to help the team even more, through assists too: the goal is to continue like this."

Lukaku scored the winner after team-mate Lautaro Martinez's first-half opener was cancelled out by Joao Pedro away from home.

On his partnership with Martinez, Lukaku added: "It's improving week after week and I'm happy about his goal, which was important for us.

"Now there will be a break for national team commitments, it will be important that we all come back in good condition and then work best in preparation for the matches at San Siro against Udinese and Slavia Prague [in the Champions League]."

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