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Italian TV pundit tries to walk back racist remarks

Inter Milan's Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku acknowledges the public as he warms up prior to the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Udinese on September 14, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (AFP Photo)

An Italian sports commentator on Tuesday tried to walk back his racist remarks about Romelu Lukaku, a Belgian striker for Inter Milan.

"I'm not a racist, I'd like to apologize to Lukaku in person," said Luciano Passirani, 80, as reported by the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

"A lack of tact and education does not belong to my way of being," he claimed.

In earlier remarks on Lukaku's power on the field, Passirani had said the only way to stop might be to "give him 10 bananas to eat."

Sacked by Top Calcio 24, where he made the remarks, Passirani said that he didn't want to be remembered as a racist, adding: "My partner who has lived with me for 17 years is black, I have two little black granddaughters, my son's daughters. I am not a racist and I believe I am an educated person in every respect."

Earlier this month Lukaku, 26, faced monkey sound jeers from fans of Italy's Cagliari during a match.

On social media, Lukaku since called any type of discrimination unacceptable and called on all football federations to take steps against discrimination.

Lukaku was one of the top signings in 2019 summer as Inter signed him away from England's Manchester United for €65 million ($71.5 million).

He is the all-time top scorer for the Belgian national team, with 49 goals in 82 games.

He also helped Belgium win the bronze medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

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