Roma and AC Milan Ban Corriere Dello Sport for 'Black Friday' Headline, Newspaper Calls it Lynching

Italian newspaper's headline has sparked outrage over racism in Italy. (Photo Credit: @ASRomaEN)

Italian newspaper's headline has sparked outrage over racism in Italy. (Photo Credit: @ASRomaEN)

Seria A clubs Roma and AC Milan banned Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport for carrying the headline 'Black Friday' with photos of Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling.

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Leading Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport was banned by Roma and AC Milan from their training grounds and have told players not to carry out any media activities the newspaper for the rest of the year for as the newspaper faced widespread criticism for a headline reading "Black Friday" and featuring two black football players on Thursday's cover.

Corriere dello Sport ran photos of Roma defender Chris Smalling and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku ahead Friday's match between the teams in Milan on Friday.

Both players - former teammates at Manchester United - condemned the headline on social media while Roma said the newspaper would be banned from its training ground for the rest of the month.

Roma and AC Milan's joint statement:

"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 by the newspaper, Roma and Milan 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 headline did portray an anti-racist message and for this reason, we have only banned Corriere dello Sport until January. We remain totally committed to tackling racism."

The newspaper took to social media to reject the accusations of racism and labelling its treatment by accusers as a "lynching".

The newspaper defended the headline as "innocent," saying its intent "was only praising diversity" and that it had been "transformed into poison by those who have poison inside."

However, Smalling and Lukaku disagreed.

"Whilst I would have liked to spend the day focusing on the big game tomorrow, it is important that I acknowledge that what occurred this morning was wrong and highly insensitive," Smalling wrote on Twitter. "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."

Lukaku called it the "dumbest of headlines I have ever seen in my career," and added: "You guys keep fueling the negativity and the racism issue."

The headline follows a series of racist chants against black players in Italian stadiums, notably targeting Brescia's Mario Balotelli, who was born to Ghanian parents, raised by Italian foster parents and has Italian citizenship.

UEFA said in a statement to The Associated Press that the headline choice was "unfortunate" and was "unlikely to help a mature discussion of the serious issue facing the game and wider society."

(With inputs from AP)

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