Lazio president Claudio Lotito said Tuesday that fans making monkey noises at players during matches in Italy was “not always” racist.
“The whistles do not always correspond to a discriminatory or racist act,” Lotito said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Italian Football Federation’s Federal Council where racism was to be discussed.
Lotito’s comments follow a spate of incidents recently in the Italian league with Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku and Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie both targeted by monkey noises from rival fans.
“I remember when I was little, often people who weren’t of colour, who had normal, white skin, made those noises to discourage opponents from scoring in front of the goalkeeper,” he said.
“So you have to interpret them individually.”
Lotito, 62, claimed that the jeers were also often directed towards white players.
“We have so many black players, I do not think that Lazio distinguishes skin colour. The behaviour of Lazio from this point of view is there for everyone to see.”
Roman club Lazio were handed a one-match suspended stand closure last season due to racist chants aimed at AC Milan players at the San Siro.
AC Milan players Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kessie were targeted by monkey chanting before and after the game.
Bakayoko was targeted before the match with Lazio fans heard outside the stadium singing: “This banana is for Bakayoko.”