Racism is alive and well, and a Black Italian rugby player has recently spoken out about an incident involving his teammates.
Cherif Traore, a Black player on the Benetton Rugby team, took to his social media account to express the racism he has recently encountered from team members. He claimed that his teammates had given him a rotten banana during a Secret Santa exchange between team members. The incident occurred at a holiday dinner with his fellow rugby players this past Wednesday.
Traore talks about the tradition the team has every year that includes a Secret Santa (This is a gift exchange between friends, coworkers, or anyone whose names are randomly picked or assigned to others without revealing the person giving the present) portion of the dinner. He described it as a “friendly and playful” moment.
(Written in Italian but translated to English)
“A moment where you can afford to give anonymous gifts to your mates, even stingy, ironic ones. Yesterday, when it was my turn, I found a banana inside my present—a rotten banana inside a bag of moisture. Apart from calling the gesture offensive, what hurt me most and seeing most of my mates present laughing. As if everything is normal. I’m used to it, or better, 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.”
He said his penchant for being silent when confronted with racism would no longer occur. He is speaking out now so that others in his position will not experience the same issues he has. Traore also hopes that whoever did this will be held accountable.
Benetton Rugby has placed a statement on the team’s Instagram account condemning the incident:
“Benetton Rugby and the Italian Rugby Federation, following the incident involving some of the members of the franchise, would like to reiterate their firm condemnation of all forms of racism and discrimination, which they do not have and they shouldn’t have any place in the Italian rugby movement, in sport, of civil society. Benetton Rugby and the FIR (The Italian Rugby Federation, which is the governing body of Italian rugby) informs the Federal Prosecutor has launched investigations necessary to ascertain the facts, as well as collective and individual responsibilities, to protect the Game’s founding values and reputation.”
The team also stated that one player had been suspended until the investigation into this matter was completed.