Criminal case against 150 Juventus fans who racially abused Romelu Lukaku with monkey noises is closed

 The legal case into the racist abuse suffered by footballer Romelu Lukaku when he played at Juventus last season has been closed by prosecutors.

The Belgian striker was playing for Inter Milan when he suffered the abuse, which included monkey chants from a section of Juventus fans after converting a late penalty in April's Coppa Italia semi-final.

Video footage showed Juventus fans chanting 'f***ing monkey' and 'f*** off' at Lukaku, who shushed them in his celebration and received a second yellow card to be sent off.

The abuse was widely condemned with Juventus sanctioning 171 fans involved before passing on details of around 150 to the Turin Public Prosecutor's Office, who opened a criminal investigation.

However, the Corriere della Sera reported that the case has now been closed. While acknowledging the crime exists, the prosecutors decided it didn't constitute a major criminal offence.

Prosecutor David Petti told the newspaper: 'Case law in the past has pronounced itself by considering that the emission of guttural sounds, such as the typical howling of monkeys, is characterised by clear connotations of racial discrimination

'The fact that such conduct was carried out by a multitude of people, who evidently acted by influencing one another, as well as the fact that such conduct did not last for a significant period of time and, not least, that it was carried out for obvious reasons of sporting rivalry (fans of the opposing team) leads us to bring the act within the scope of Article 131 of the penal code.

‘The behaviour is certainly not habitual, and it is, therefore, possible to proceed with the archiving of the case.’

Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored the 95th-minute penalty to level the first-leg match at the Allianz Stadium at 1-1 following Juan Cuadrado's opener.

He celebrated by raising his finger to his lips and standing in front of the Juventus support.

Another dispute after the final whistle saw Cuadrado and Inter keeper Samir Handanovic dismissed too.

The one-match ban Lukaku received for the sending-off was later rescinded after he received the backing of Italian league president Gabriele Gravina.

Later in April, Juventus issued 171 fans with stadium bans after police led an investigation into the racist abuse directed at Lukaku. They were identified by CCTV footage and photographs of the crowd being examined

The information was passed on to prosecutors but they have now decided not to proceed with the criminal case

Lukaku, 30, is spending this season on loan at Inter's Serie A rivals Roma, where he has already scored nine times in 13 matches for Jose Mourinho's side.