(CNN)Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku believes racism in football is at an “all-time high” ahead of the start of the European Championships.
Lukaku, who is preparing for Belgium’s opening game of the Euros against Russia on Saturday, has received racial abuse a number of times throughout his football career, notably when he was the subject of monkey chants from fans in 2019. Today, he thinks abuse towards players is only getting worse.
“I think racism in football right now is at the all-time high. Why? Because of social media now as well,” Lukaku told CNN Sport.
“I understand why people like Thierry Henry are blocking social media because it’s easy, you can track somebody down … The social media companies, they have to do more for me.”Read MoreEarlier this year, former Arsenal forward Henry deleted his social media accounts following a spate of online racist abuse aimed at Black footballers and what he said was the inability of social media companies to hold users accountable for their actions. Lukaku scores in Belgium’s 1-0 victory over Croatia last Sunday. A few weeks after Henry had closed his accounts, English football clubs and governing bodies took part in a three-day social media blackout to protest against abuse.”For me, to be honest, I don’t really see progress. I see a lot of campaigns and all that stuff, but really until there is no real action taken,” Lukaku added.”In Italy, when it happened to me directly, there was something that was done because the Serie A really communicated with me and my team. “And we basically tried to educate people in Italy that it is not good, because in Italy, it is a beautiful country and I’ve been accepted really well by everybody, home fans, away fans. “I think when that happened, it changed. That’s what all the leagues should do. They should talk to the players and basically try to start doing things with the players and with their teams.”Over the past week, supporters in England have booed while players took a knee ahead of games against Austria and Romania.England manager Gareth Southgate said his players are “totally united” on taking a knee and “determined more than ever” to do so throughout the Euros. This year’s tournament, which was postponed from last year, is being held across 11 cities — Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Munich, London, Rome, Seville, Saint Petersburg — where a limited number of fans are being allowed to attend. Lukaku playing in the friendly between Belgium and Greece earlier this month. When it comes to football’s response to racism, Lukaku also pointed to the formation of the Super League, a proposed restructure of club football in Europe that fell apart as a number of teams withdrew following strong criticism from fans. “When the Super League started, people were very quick to shut it down on social media … people and fans were going on the streets (to protest),” said Lukaku. “I’m the same, I didn’t want it to happen. But why don’t you put the same energy when it’s about racism as well? Because it’s the same platforms, basically.”Lukaku, whose goal helped Belgium to a 1-0 victory against Croatia on Sunday, scored 24 league goals last season as Inter Milan won its first Scudetto since 2010.
His Belgium team are among the favorites to win the upcoming Euros having never won the tournament before. After finishing third at the 2018 World Cup, Roberto Martinez’s side won all 10 of its qualifying games for the Euros and now prepare to contest a group featuring Finland, Russia and Denmark.