Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has branded Corriere dello Sport’s “Black Friday” headline “the worst front page” he has ever seen and offered support to Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.
Roma defender Smalling, who is on loan from United, and Inter Milan forward Lukaku – who left the Red Dewvils for Italy in the summer – were pictured either side of the headline on Thursday’s front page, which was previewing Friday’s clash between the Serie A sides.
The former United team-mates criticised the publication, while Solskjaer says it is “incredible” that the newspaper decided to go ahead with the headline.
“When you see that paper you say: ‘Wow. Really? Is that possible?’,” said Solskjaer.
“It’s the worst front page I’ve ever seen. It has to be,” said the Norwegian at his press conference on Friday.
“Of course we have been in touch with Chris, just so he knows that we’ll back him and we support him, and with Romelu as well.
“Wow, that’s incredible – and at least we don’t see that here...that has to be stamped down (on).”
The cover has attracted widespread criticism and the players had their say on Twitter on Thursday evening.
Smalling wrote: “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.
“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”, adding: “You guys keep fuelling the negativity and the racisme (sic) issue (...) instead of talking about the beautiful game that’s going to be played at San Siro between two great clubs.
“Education is key (...) you guys of corriere dello sport should do a better job at that.”
Corriere dello Sport defended Thursday’s headline with a front page on Friday which translated as: “Who are you calling racist? Lynching of a newspaper that for a century has defended liberty and equality.”
Roma and AC Milan, Inter’s co-tenants at San Siro, have banned Corriere dello Sport from both clubs’ training facilities for the rest of the year.