Lazio’s winless run against its city rival was extended to seven games as Roma earned a 2-0 win in the Roman derby after two defensive errors led to the goals. The match will be remembered not so much for the scuffles that happened after the first goal, when Kevin Strootman tackled Wallace in his own area to break the deadlock. Part of Strootman’s celebration involved squirting water at Lazio substitute Danilo Cataldi, for which he was booked. Cataldi’s furious response, grabbing his opponent around the neck, earned him a red card.
It was the post-match interview with Lazio’s Bosnian winger Senad Lulic that dominated the aftermath; the player told Mediaset that Roma defender Antonio Rudiger had been provoking the opponent before the game.
“Two years ago he was selling socks and belts in Stuttgart, now he acts like he’s a phenomenon,” Lulic was quoted as saying, a comment with clear racial undertones. “It’s not his fault really, but the fault of those who are around him. They haven’t taught him good manners.”
Lulic was asked to apologize for his comments in another interview, but he refused, saying that it was not intended to be racist.
“White people sell socks too,” he said.
Lazio’s official spokesman was more diplomatic and apologized immediately.
“The club is pained by these comments and the way they were interpreted,” said Arturo Diaconale. “I apologize on behalf of the club, these are statements made in the heat of the moment by a player who just lost the derby. It crossed the line. The controversy started with previous comments from the Roma player, but we all need common sense and to not blow this up.”
It’s a bit late for that. Lulic can expect a ban for his comments.
The result, meanwhile, tees things up very nicely for next week’s game between second-placed teams Roma and AC Milan, who beat Crotone 2-1. Both are four points behind Juventus, who ended its wobble with an impressive 3-1 win over high-flying Atalanta.