Italy prop Cherif Traore given rotten banana in Benetton’s Secret Santa
21st December 2022

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Italy prop Cherif Traore has revealed that he was given a rotten banana during Benetton’s Secret Santa in an incident that drew laughter from teammates.

The Guinea-born 28-year-old, who has won 16 caps including during the 2022 Six Nations, used social media to outline what he describes as an “offensive gesture” in a post that has since been deleted.

In response, United Rugby Championship club Benetton said they take a strong stance against racism, but their statement made no mention of an investigation.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CZ4SDBzI5PQ

Traore wrote on Instagram: “Christmas is coming and as is traditional in a team, it’s Secret Santa time.

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“A friendly and playful moment. A moment where you 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 was seeing most of my mates present laughing. As if everything is normal.

“I’m used to it. Or rather, I’ve had to get used to it, putting on a brave face 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. Outside Italy a gesture like this is severely condemned even in small instances and this time I want to say my piece.

“I have been up all night. Young guys from different backgrounds attended this Secret Santa.

“I have decided not to remain silent this time to ensure that episodes like this don’t happen again and to prevent other people finding themselves in my current situation in the future. And hoping the sender will learn a lesson….”

Traore arrived in Italy as a seven-year-old, making the journey from Guinea in west Africa with his family to join his father, who had already emigrated to Europe.

He has represented Italy at under-20, A and senior levels, making his Azzurri debut against Japan in 2018 when Conor O’Shea was in charge.

Benetton’s statement read: “With reference to the post that appeared this morning on the social media of the Green and White player Cherif Traore, Benetton would like to reiterate that it has always condemned with the utmost firmness any expression of racism and/or form of discrimination.

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“They are not part of our culture and do not represent our identity and our values. We have always proved it with deeds, not just with words, and we will continue to strongly support it.

“Similar behaviours have nothing to do with sport and in the face of episodes like this Benetton will always be on the side of respecting people, their culture, their ethnicity, their faith and their dignity.”

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