Football: Lulic facing ban over Rudiger race comments

Football: Lulic facing ban over Rudiger race comments

Lazio star Senad Lulic could be handed a multiple-match ban for controversial comments made to Roma defender Antonio Rudiger in a fiercely-contested capital derby in Serie A on Sunday.

Lulic was facing accusations of racism in the wake of last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Roma for likening Rudiger, who is black, to a street seller hawking "socks and belts".

Although the Bosnian midfielder explained his words "were a provocation to a provocation", he stopped short of offering an apology.

Federal prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro will now look at footage of the interview in which Lulic made the disparaging comments.

If they are deemed racist, he faces several games on the sidelines. The Italian football federaion (FIGC) and Serie A officials have introduced new disciplinary measures aimed at stamping out racist behaviour by fans as well as players.

Lulic said of Rudiger after Sunday's game: "He's been speaking too much even before this game.

"Two years ago, he was selling socks and belts in Stuttgart and now he thinks he's a phenomenon." Rudiger, 23, has a German father and a mother who hails from Sierra Leone and has played for Germany through all the age groups. He joined Roma last year after a three-year spell with VfB Stuttgart.

Lulic on Monday posted a message on Instagram claiming he regretted allowing himself, as a Bosnian whose country has experienced the tragedy of ethnic cleansing, to be gripped by post-match tension.

"In retrospect, I realise that I responded to a provocation with a provocation," said Lulic.

"I come from a country that has experienced the tragedy of ethnic discrimination.

"That's why I'm sorry I allowed myself to be gripped by tension after the game and to have expressed myself in such an unhappy way." Italy's Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said Lulic's words were "unacceptable".

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