Serie A stars Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling have hit out against Italian newspaper Corrierre dello Sport after it published a headline in between pictures of the pair with the words ‘Black Friday’.
Inter forward Lukaku and Roma defender Smalling will meet on Friday for the first time since their departures from Manchester United in the summer and the newspaper was embroiled in a racism row with the headline on Thursday.
The pair have now had their say on social media, with Lukaku calling the headline “dumb” while calling for better education and Smalling branding it “highly insensitive”.
Smalling wrote on Twitter: “While I would have liked to spend the day focusing on the big game tomorrow, it is importnat that I acknowledge that what occurred this morning was wrong and highly insensitive.
“I hope the editors involved in running this headline take responsibility and understand the power they possess through words, and the impact those words can have.
“A big shout out to AS Roma for the support! Now let the battle commence Rom, daje Roma!”
Lukaku also took to Twitter to condemn the headline, writing: “Instead of focusing on a battle between two teams.. Corriere dello Sport comes with the most dumbest of headlines I have ever seen in my career.
“You guys keep fuelling the negativity and the racism issue. Instead of talking about the beautiful game that’s going to be played at San Siro between two great clubs.
“Education is key. You guys of Corriere dello Sport should do a better job at that.”
Both players have enjoyed resurgences since leaving Old Trafford, Smalling recently turning in a Man of the Match performance and wearing the captain’s armband in a Europa League clash with Istanbul Basaksehir.
Lukaku, meanwhile, has scored 11 goals and assisted two others in 18 appearances for Antonio Conte’s side so far this term.
Thursday’s incident is not the first time Belgian international Lukaku has been subject to racial abuse during his time in Milan.