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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Italy's black prop Traore blasts racism after rotten banana Christmas gift

Black Italy prop Cherif Traore said on Wednesday he would no longer stay silent about the racism he has suffered after a club team-mate gave him a rotten banana as a Christmas present.

The 28-year-old, born in Guinea, said he received the item on Tuesday during a Secret Santa exchange with his Treviso teammates, a game where individuals buy presents that are then distributed anonymously among a group of people.

"As well as considering the gesture offensive, the thing that hurt me the most was seeing most of my companions present laughing. As if everything was normal," Traore, who has 16 caps for the national side, said on Instagram.

"I am used to, or rather I have had to get used to, having to put on a brave face every time I hear racist jokes... but yesterday was different."

He said younger men "of different backgrounds" attended the Secret Santa, and "I have decided not to stay silent this time, so that events like this do not happen again... and hoping that the sender will learn a lesson".

In an initial statement, Treviso, backed by clothing company Benetton, said it condemned all forms of racism and discrimination.

It later said the whole team had been called to a meeting with top executives, who repeated their condemnation of racism, and all the players apologised to Traore.

Is Italy Racist?

Traore accepted their apologies and said he understood that the banana had been "purely the result of foolishness and nothing else", according to the updated club statement.

"I am happy with the gesture and I am sure that what happened will make the group even stronger," he said.

Club chairman Amerino Zatta said what happened did not reflect the club's identity and values, but said he was pleased Traore had accepted the apology for the "absurd stupidity" of his teammate.

Co-captain Michele Lamaro added: "On behalf of the whole team, I repeat that we condemn every expression of racism and that no form of discrimination is acceptable in our locker room."

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© Agence France-Presse

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