Milan and Roma have banned the Corriere dello Sport from the clubs' training grounds for the rest of 2019 in response to the paper’s controversial ‘Black Friday’ headline.
The headline was used on the paper’s front page as part of a preview for Friday’s clash between Inter and Roma, featuring images of former Premier League stars Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling as they go head-to-head in Serie A for the first time.
Corriere dello Sport have defended the headline, saying it formed part of an “innocent” article intending to celebrate the “magnificent wealth of diversity” in football.
There has, however, been widespread condemnation at what is seen as an insensitive choice of words, particularly as it comes at a time when the Italian authorities have been accused of not taking the issue of racism seriously enough following a string of incidents in recent months.
Roma and Inter have publicly criticised the headline on social media, as have Smalling and Lukaku, with the Manchester United and Everton striker, who himself was the target of racist abuse from a section of supporters earlier this season, saying it was “the most dumbest of headlines I have ever seen in my career.”
Now Roma and Inter’s city rivals Milan have decided to take decisive action by refusing to work with the publication for the rest of the year.
A statement on Milan’s website read: “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 today by the newspaper, Milan and Roma 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 'Black Friday' 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.”