MILAN Dec 4 (Reuters) –

Lazio have apologised for comments made by left back Senad Lulic after he said AS Roma defender Antonio Ruediger was selling socks and belts two years ago.

Lulic’s remarks were interpreted as racist by the Italian media, including the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, as they seemed to imply the Germany player, who is black, used to be a street vendor.

“I apologise in the name of the club and in the name of Senad Lulic,” said Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale after his side lost 2-0 to Roma in a bad-tempered Serie A clash on Sunday.

“His comments were made in the heat of the moment after losing a derby. Lulic’s words were over the top but based on previous comments by Ruediger.

“The important thing is to recognise the error. We want competition to be in an atmosphere of fair play which is Lazio’s style,” added Diaconale.

Earlier, Lulic told the Mediaset Premium channel: “Ruediger was provoking us even before the game. Two years ago he was selling socks and belts in Stuttgart.

“Now he acts like he is some sort of phenomenon. It’s not his fault, it’s those around him who didn’t teach him any manners.”

On his way out of the stadium, the Bosnia international was asked by reporters if his words were racist and replied: “White people also sell socks”.

Roma and Ruediger, who was born in Berlin to a German father and Sierra Leonean mother, have not commented.

Ruediger, 23, made his professional debut for VfB Stuttgart in 2012 and left them to join Roma last year.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Tony Jimenez)