Banana given to Italian rugby star Cherif Traore as a Secret Santa gift

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Italian rugby star Cherif Traore received a rotten banana as a supposed Christmas present from one of his Benetton teammates, in the latest racist incident that shook the sports world.

Speaking to Instagram on Wednesday, the 28-year-old said she was given the moldy fruit during the Benetton team’s traditional “Secret Santa”, an anonymous gift exchange that took place this week before Christmas.

“Christmas is coming and it’s Secret Santa time,” wrote Traore, who was born in Guinea and moved to Italy at the age of seven. “A friendly and fun moment. A moment when you can afford to give anonymous, even stingy, ironic gifts to your friends. When it was my turn yesterday, I found a banana in my present.”

The actor said that the moldy fruit was placed in a wet bag and that the thing that hurt him the most was “seeing that most of my friends were there laughing”. As if everything was normal.”

Traore said she’s had to quietly get used to racism throughout her life, but on this occasion she felt compelled to share her experiences – in the hope that the sender, whose identity has not been made public, learns a lesson.

“Bananas have a long historical link as a racial trigger that associates ethnic groups, particularly those with black race, with monkeys, gorillas and the jungle,” says Professor Kevin Hylton. Professor Emeritus of Equality and Diversity in Sport, Leisure and Education, Leeds Beckett University, He told The Washington Post on Thursday via email. “The use of these images to embody Traore embarrassingly positions him as an animalistic physical being rather than an intellectual.”

The Benetton Rugby association said Wednesday that the incident, which sparked strong condemnation on social media, “does not represent our identity and values” and “wants to reiterate its extremely strong condemnation of any event”. expression of racism or discrimination.”

later rugby club He posted a video in which Traore said the incident was a “joke” and that he was speaking to the company to clarify what happened.

“my friend [team player]The person who made that joke didn’t do it maliciously. He understood that this was wrong. with my other friend [team players] He apologized and I accepted the apology,” Traore said.

“Athletes and fans have long turned to the notions of joking in an attempt to “pain highly problematic behavior and downplay accusations of racism and bigotry,” Hylton said.

The video posted by Benetton was denounced by many online, who claimed that the team tried to eliminate the incident as soon as possible rather than take full responsibility. “The Italian Rugby Federation and World Rugby must act. They need to send a clear message to the rugby world,” he read. many tweets.

Professional England star Ellis Genge joined in urging the Italian team to take more action against those involved.

“If no further action is taken from Benetton on this issue, then everything we do for ‘rugby against racism’ has been a checkbox for many,” Genge said. tweeted Thursday.

The incident is the latest example of the racial abuse of athletes around the world – many argue that some sporting institutions do not recognize racism in sport as a serious problem.

“In every sport there are general and specific issues and controversies they have to deal with, encompassing cross-cutting issues of race, class, gender, and nation, among other things,” Hylton said, adding that the “gift” of bananas sent to Traore was “humiliating.” . and debilitating on several levels” and that “denial of racism” only leads to “more and ongoing micro-attacks online and offline”.

The rugby incident comes just days after at least three French football players suffered multiple racial abuses online after losing to Argentina in Sunday’s dramatic World Cup final.

Kingsley Coman and Aurélien Tchouaméni, who missed decisive hits in a 3-3 loss that resulted in a 4-2 penalty shootout, were among those targeted online with the monkey and banana emoji.

Last year, British police arrested 11 people for racially abusing England’s Black players during the Euro 2020 tournament, many of them containing hundreds of comments with monkey emojis. More than 1 million people signed a petition to ban racists from football matches for life.

Boris Johnson and Prince William condemn racist harassment of Britain’s Black players

Stefano Pitrelli and Glynn A. Hill contributed to this report.

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