Lukaku racist abuse is a problem with society, not football - John Barnes

Lukaku scored the winner for Inter Milan at Cagliari but was subjected to racist abuse. (Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images).

John Barnes believes there is no quick fix to racism in football following the incident involving Romelu Lukaku and Cagliari.

Inter Milan striker Lukaku was targeted by a section of the Cagliari fans during his side's 2-1 win in Serie A last weekend.

The Belgian immediately condemned the amount of racism in Italian football, but an Inter Milan fans' group suggested the monkey chants were a form of 'respect' and were 'not racist'.

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The incident in Italy follows a spate of problems in England where Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba were targeted by online trolls on Twitter, while Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling was subjected to racist abuse during a Premier League match at Chelsea last season.

The Blues took action and issued six bans, including one lifetime ban to a supporter.

And Barnes, himself racially abused during his career for Liverpool and England, thinks the Lukaku incident is one that football authorities aren't in a position to tackle.

He exclusively told Yahoo Sport UK: "You need to eradicate it from society first.

"There are some people who are just racist human beings and so before the authorities try and tackle it, you have to eradicate it from society first."

Barnes made 314 appearances for Liverpool. (Photo by Martin Birchall & Colin Lane/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Lukaku's former Manchester United team-mate Chris Smalling, who joined Roma on loan, has also spoken out against racism.

"I think racism is unacceptable and should not be stood for," Smalling said. "It is not an issue just in Italy, it is around the world.

"There needs to be a change, there will be generational changes and younger people will have a different perspective.

"But it does happen, not just in Italy but around the world, and it is very sad and unacceptable that it still happens in these modern times."

Lukaku has made an instant impact since joining Inter from Manchester United over the summer and he scored on his Serie A debut in a 4-0 victory over Lecce.

While Lukaku fell out of favour at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, Barnes believes his new club could bring out the best in the 26-year old, as well as fellow Manchester United alumni Alexis Sanchez, who followed Lukaku to Inter on loan.

He said: "With these players, it is a case of fitting into a certain environment.

"Unfortunately it didn't work out, but Lukaku isn't a bad player as people make out. For some reason or another, it just didn't work out.

"I think if they are playing regular football, they have a great chance to get their career going."

John Barnes was speaking as an ambassador for BonusCode Bets.

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