Inter chairman defends fans amid Lukaku racism debate

Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku, pictured above. (Luca Bruno/AP)

GENEVA — Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang defended his club’s fans after some of them published a letter on social media in support of the rival fans who racially abused striker Romelu Lukaku at a game.

Zhang says the principle of non-discrimination is "embedded in the DNA" of the club.

Lukaku, who is black, was targeted with monkey chants by Cagliari fans this month after he scored a penalty kick for Inter. A group of Inter fans later wrote a letter saying that such abuse is not meant to be racist but was a tactic used in Italy to unsettle opposing players.

Zhang says the club’s inclusive history makes him believe that the fans who wrote the letter did not intend to cause offence, adding "a lot of fans, when they did it, the intention was not bad."

Zhang says soccer is "not for violence, it’s not for racism" and can be a force to educate people around the world.

The 28-year-old Chinese official spoke with reporters at a European Club Association meeting after he was elected to the group’s executive board.

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