A black Italian rugby player accused his team-mates of racism on Wednesday after they gave him a “rotten banana” during an anonymous gift exchange with Secret Santa.
Cherif Traore wrote on Instagram that he received the unwanted gift in a garbage bag during a Christmas dinner for Benetton Treviso players.
“Aside from feeling it an insulting gesture, what hurt me the most was seeing most of my teammates present laughing. As if everything was normal,” he said.
“I didn’t sleep all night,” added the 28-year-old.
Cherif Traore wrote on Instagram that he received the unwanted gift in a garbage bag during a Christmas dinner for Benetton Treviso players. Source: Getty / feather rugby
Traore was born in Guinea but has lived in Italy since she was seven. He plays as a prop for the northern Treviso club and for the Italy national rugby union team.
He said he doesn’t usually respond to “racist jokes” so as not to “make enemies” with those around him, but said he couldn’t let the latest insult get away with it.
“I have decided not to remain silent this time to ensure that such incidents do not happen again,” he said, adding that such behavior would be “seriously condemned outside of Italy”.
In a statement, Benetton Rugby said they have “always condemned in the strongest terms any expression of racism and/or any form of discrimination”.
The Traore incident “has nothing to do with sport” and the club will always work to “respect people, their culture, their ethnicity, their beliefs and their dignity,” the club said.
There have been numerous incidents of black athletes being racially abused in Italy. In football, black players are routinely abused by fans during games. In October, Paola Egonu, a black volleyball player, announced she was taking a break from the Italy national team after comments questioned her nationality.