Vine / Instagram / WhatsApp / Twitter / Facebook, as footballers so often deride them, are their own worst enemies, with scant regard for personal or professional ethics. But among global sports stars, none are more vulnerable to their foul-mouthed, tawdry and violent influence than the Belgian Romelu Lukaku.
In just over a week, the Manchester United and Belgium striker has already landed in hot water after a string of clips on his prolific social media platforms were discovered containing seemingly racist and homophobic language. In the latest video in which he appears to imitating the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, Lukaku said the success of his team had not been down to “a lot of French people, they just wanted the people who are well dressed”.
Lukaku has moved swiftly to deny what he admitted was an “inappropriate” joke. He was swiftly admonished by his club, by coach José Mourinho, and by the Belgian FA, which said the player was called in for questioning and was given advice on how to monitor his use of social media.
But in a further twist, he called for a meeting of the presidents of the world’s leading social media platforms to discuss ways of fighting racism and sexism on the same platform where a “racist photo” of him was uploaded.
“I think the meeting should be with those who run the likes, that’s how you should decide to stop it,” Lukaku said at a press conference in Brussels for Belgium’s squad at the World Cup qualifying double-header with Israel and Moldova.
“If you see something stupid you have to stop, so just taking them off immediately. If I do that I will not say anything.”