(CNN)A group of Inter Milan fans have claimed monkey chants directed at Romelu Lukaku by Cagliari supporters were not "racist."
Belgium's Lukaku, who moved from Manchester United to Inter earlier this summer, was subjected to the chanting while taking a penalty in Inter's 2-1 victory in Cagliari.
But an open letter from the fan group "Curva Nord," posted on its Facebook page, claimed the Cagliari fans were showing Lukaku a form of "respect" and that Italy doesn't have a problem with racism.
"We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist," the group said.
"You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a REAL problem. We understand that it could have seemed racist to you, but it is not like that."
'Form of respect'
In the wake of the abuse directed at Lukaku, the 26-year-old posted on Instagram that football was "going backwards."
After scoring from the penalty spot, the striker stood and stared at the fans behind the goal -- where the chants had originated from -- while teammate Milan Skriniar was seen putting his fingers to his lips to the Cagliari fans.