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VIDEO: Romelu Lukaku responds to racist abuse at Cagliari

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Romelu Lukaku has released a statement after he was subjected to racist abuse by so-called soccer fans at Cagliari.

Lukaku, 26, scored a penalty kick as Inter Milan won 2-1 on Sunday and remained top of the Serie A table.

Videos have emerged of fans directing monkey chants at Lukaku from behind the goal where he scored.

Cagliari fans previously hurled racist abuse at former Juventus striker Moise Kean, and following on from the racist abuse of Tammy Abraham, Paul Pogba and Kurt Zouma on social media, this horrendous situation continues.

As for Lukaku, the Belgium national team star had the following to say in a social media post on Monday as he bravely addressed the situation head on.

“Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse. I did yesterday too. Football is a game to be enjoyed be 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 need to work better as well with football clubs because everyday you see at least a racist comment under a post of a person of color. We’ve been saying it for years and still no action. Ladies and gentleman, it is 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.”

Nainggolan moves from Inter to old club Cagliari

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Former Inter and Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has joined his old club Cagliari, returning to Sardegna Arena for the first time since he left for Roma in January of 2014.

While reports indicate that Inter manager Antonio Conte told the 31-year-old he was no longer wanted, the move to Cagliari came as a bit of a surprise. However, it seems there is some personal motivation behind Nainggolan’s decision to rejoin his old club.

Nainggolan’s wife Claudia Lau is set to undergo chemotherapy as she battles cancer, and she is originally from Cagliari. Therefore, it makes sense as Nainggolan refers to Cagliari as “home” in his announcement of the move.

“It was not hard to choose Cagliari although I did have other offers,” Nainggolan said in the official announcement. “I spoke with some other managers but it was right to come back here and I must first thank the president. After our first call, he completely convinced me right away, he made promises and he has kept them. Things have gone the way I would have liked them to have gone and it was easy to reach an agreement.”

The Belgian midfielder played 29 times for Inter in his lone season with the club, making 22 stars and earning a consistent place in the lineup over the second half of the season. However, with Conte taking over this summer for Luciano Spalletti, Nainggolan’s spot in the center of the pitch has been compromised, pushed out by the likes of Matias Vecino, Roberto Gagliardini, Marcelo Brozovic, Borja Valero, and others in a crowded Inter midfield.

Cagliari to face no punishment for fans’ racist abuse of Kean

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Serie A side Cagliari will face no punishment for their fans’ racist abuse of Juventus youngster Moise Kean last month.

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The decision was announced by the league’s office on Tuesday, accompanied by a statement which read in part:

“It emerged the chants in question, although certainly reprehensible, had an objectively limited relevance to race.”

In other words, they were only a little racist; they weren’t racist enough.

The chants were present throughout the entirety of Juve’s 2-0 victory and only grew more intense after Kean scored his side’s second goal and celebrated defiantly, unwilling to be intimidated or silenced.

Serie A: Milan tops Atalanta in massive win, Cagliari grabs 3 points

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AC Milan has scored one of the most important results of the Serie A season in what has turned out to be a vicious battle for the final Champions League places, coming from behind to beat Atalanta 3-1 on a brace from new signing Krzysztof Piatek. The win gave Milan a four-point gap between themselves and fifth-placed Atalanta, with Roma and Lazio all right there in the chase as well.

Both teams struggled to find good chances through the first 45 minutes, as the only two shots on target of the first half resulted in goals. Atalanta struck first through Remo Freuler, although Gianluigi Donnarumma will want it back. Just past the half-hour mark, great work from Josip Ilicic on the right-hand edge of the box led to a cutback where Freuler was waiting in acres of space, but his shot was right at Donnarumma. Unfortunately for the visitors, he was unable to stop the shot completely, and it trickled away to his right and over the line.

Milan was able to change the halftime feel of the game right on the stroke of the break as Piatek scored his 16th goal of the season and third for Milan since joining in the winter by somehow managing to touch Ricardo Rodriguez’s cross into the far corner despite his back to the target, contorting his body so that his leg whip redirected it inside the far post.

The visitors took the lead just after the break, a meaningful strike in more ways than one as Hakan Calhanoglu bagged his first goal of the season to a thunderous response from the Milan bench. His low strike from the top-left corner of the penalty area found the far post past a diving Etrit Berisha. Less than a week ago, Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso had called Calhanoglu out for poor play, saying “I expect more” from the Turkish winger. The goal is his first in league play since he ended last season with a run of three goals in the final four games of the campaign.

Piatek made it 3-1 just minutes after by heading in a Calhanoglu corner, and that was the ballgame wrapped up. Milan won its second in a row and fourth in its last six league matches. With just one league loss since the November international break, Milan has strengthened its Champions League hopes, just a point back of third-placed Inter who is set to host Sampdoria tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Cagliari also came from behind, beating Parma 2-1 on a brace from Leonardo Pavoletti despite falling behind before halftime.

The visitors at Sardegna Arena went in front in the 40th minute on an absolutely stunning header from Juraj Kucka, redirecting a free-kick from a great distance out, looping his header up and over Cagliari goalkeeper  Alessio Cragno, clipping the underside of the bar and deflecting into the net.

Cagliari stormed back and Pavoletti struck for the first time just past the hour mark, touching home on a set-piece development after Luca Cigarini’s looped free-kick found Luca Ceppitelli’s head, touching the ball across the face of goal right to the doorstep where Pavoletti was streaking in.

The hosts owned both the bulk of possession and the advantage in the shot count, finishing with 16 to Parma’s nine, but they struggled to get them on target. Finally, in the 85th minute, Pavoletti won it as Nicolo Barella produced a wonderful cutback delivery from the left touchline and his looping cross found the 30-year-old’s head leaving Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe no chance.

The win pushes Cagliari to 14th in the table, six points above the relegation zone and just one point below their opponents.

Blocked from traveling, Cagliari kicks over milk in compromise

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Sardinian side Cagliari had an interesting Serie A travel day to Milan in that there was a chance it might not happen at all.

The Italians were trapped inside their training ground by over 100 protestors who were not challenging Cagliari’s on-field performances, but wanted the 15th place side to cancel their match at AC Milan in solidarity with them over high milk prices.

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Part of a nation-wide protest which sees people kick over milk on the road, protestors would only let Cagliari’s players leave for Sunday’s match at AC Milan via compromise.

That compromise saw three Cagliari players join in the protest. From Football-Italia.net:

The team was only allowed to leave after several players, including Nicolo Barella, Alessandro Deiola and Joao Pedrowere filmed kicking over milk pails in a gesture of solidarity.

This a story we didn’t expect at the start of the Matchday.