The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) has been rocked by a shocking racism storm.
Bennetton player Cherif Traore, who was born in Guinea, received a rotten banana from an unknown teammate during the squad's secret Santa ahead of Christmas.
Traore, capped 15 times by the Azzurri, said that 'what hurt the most was to see most of my teammates laughing'.
The disgraceful incident sparked a formal investigation from Italian rugby officials who have since suspended the unnamed teammate of Traore's.
The sport's governing body released a statement, saying: “The FIR informs that the Federal Prosecutor has launched the investigations necessary to ascertain the facts, as well as the collective and individual responsibilities, to protect the founding values and reputation of the game.
“Benetton Rugby has simultaneously decided to suspend one of its members as a precaution, for the entire duration of the investigations by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.”
URC looking for answers from Benetton over the Cherif Traore incident pic.twitter.com/rWT15VdA19— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) December 22, 2022
In the wake of the incident, Traore took to social media to have his say.
He said: "Apart from finding it an offensive gesture, what hurt me the most was to see that most of my team-mates who were present were laughing.
"I've had to get used to it, having to make a good face on a bad game whenever I hear racist jokes in order to try not to hate the people close to me.
"Yesterday was different, though. Thankfully some comrades, especially foreigners, tried to support me."
Apologies from the Benetton team towards Cherif Traoré is literally the baseline of what should happen.— The Loose Head (@TheLooseH) December 21, 2022
Termination of the perpetrator's contract should be next.
Shouldn't matter if they believed it was just a joke.
Get rid. Simple as.
I don’t say prayers at the Christmas table but this year I might suggest we all try and be a bit more Cherif Traore.— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) December 22, 2022
If faced with the same, I can guarantee I wouldn’t be so forgiving / generous. Immense respect for the man.
What happened to Cherif Traorè was completely unacceptable. Noticeable on my timeline that it’s mostly black players calling it out. Should be on us all— Gareth Rhys Owen (@g_r_owen) December 22, 2022
Here’s hoping that @BenettonRugby are busy behind the scenes trying to identify and punish the racist(s) in their squad - or do they need to be pressurised by @WorldRugby into taking meaningful action? Utterly unacceptable ordeal for Cherif Traore to endure. ‘Core values’…?— Chris Foy (@FoyChris) December 22, 2022
He added: "Young guys from different backgrounds attended the Secret Santa.
"I have decided not to remain silent this time to ensure that episodes like this don't happen again to prevent other people finding themselves in my current situation. And hoping the sender will learn a lesson..."
England prop Ellis Genge also spoke out against the racist abuse aimed towards Traore.
“No well done, absolutely right, ‘gifting’ a ‘teammate’ a rotten banana for secret Santa is not a big deal and a simple apology will suffice!” Genge tweeted.
"If there is no further action on this from Benetton then everything we’ve done for “rugby against racism” has been a tick box for most."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
- Rugby Player Who Won Championship On Saturday Is Still Drinking In Kit 3 Days Later
- Rugby league in mourning as NRL star's brave uncle sadly dies while trying to save strangers from drowning
- 11-year-old left in tears after being told he can't play in rugby match because he's 'too big'
- Super Rugby And NRL Teams Tipped To Circle After Henry Paterson's Hat-Trick In London Sevens Final