The pair were involved in a furious bust-up during Inter Milan’s Coppa Italia win over rivals AC Milan.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has denied that his ‘voodoo’ insult to Romelu Lukaku was meant as a racial slur after the pair clashed during a tempestuous Milan derby on Tuesday night.
Inter striker Lukaku and AC Milan forward Ibrahimovic – former teammates at Manchester United – butted heads just prior to half time in the Coppa Italia quarter-final clash.
Ibrahimovic reportedly told Lukaku to, “Go do your voodoo shit, you little donkey!” – a pointed reference to comments made by Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who claimed Lukaku decided to leave Goodison Park after receiving a “voodoo message.”
Lukaku denied the claim and threatened legal action against Moshiri.
Ibrahimovic and Lukaku – who reportedly said “fuck you and your wife” to the Swede – both received yellow cards for the incident.
Ibrahimovic was sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence. The 39-year-old put Milan ahead in the first half before a Lukaku penalty and a 97th-minute free-kick from Christian Eriksen lifted Inter to victory.
‘There is no place for racism’ – Ibrahimovic.
Some comments on social media have accused Ibrahimovic of racially abusing Lukaku, which Ibrahimovic has strongly denied.
The other school of thought is that Ibrahimovic used the word ‘donkey’ as a reference to Lukaku’s ability – or lack thereof – to control the ball with his first touch.
“In ZLATAN’s world there is no place for RACISM,” Ibrahimovic wrote on Twitter.
“We are all the same race – we are all equal !! We are all PLAYERS some better than [sic] others.”
In ZLATAN’s world there is no place for RACISM.
We are all the same race – we are all equal !!
We are all PLAYERS some better then others.https://t.co/DhguHUOFte
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) January 27, 2021
Speaking after the game on Tuesday, Milan boss Stefano Pioli revealed Ibrahimovic had apologised for his part in the incident while conceding that the Swede’s second-half dismissal shaped the outcome in Inter’s favour.
“He [Ibrahimovic] apologised like the great champion he is,” said Pioli. “He got a bit caught up in the desire to help the team.
“It wasn’t easy to stay in the game a man down. The pressure from Inter was strong.
The war of words with Lukaku that led to Zlatan Ibrahimović’s first yellow card in the first half:
— Get Italian Football News (@_GIFN) January 26, 2021
“We paid for the effort in the last half hour and we couldn’t bring home a positive result. It shouldn’t have happened, but that’s how it went.
“We are very sorry because we had prepared for the game well.”