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.
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