Italian football has been hit by a second racist storm inside a week after Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia was insulted after being called ‘shitty Moroccan’ live on air during a live, post-match television interview with Italian state broadcaster Rai.
This comes just some two days after Ghana star Sulley Muntari said he was “treated like a criminal” when he was booked – an initially suspended – for complaining about racist abuse.
Benatia, a Morocco international, was being interviewed following a 1-1 Serie A draw at home with city rival Torino when it was cut embarrassingly short by what seemed like a studio technician’s gaffe.
As he was speaking to studio presenters about Juventus, Benatia heard a voice over his radio earpiece say: “What are you saying, shit*y Moroccan?”
Benatia, who had been answering a question about Juventus winning its sixth consecutive Serie A title, stopped mid-sentence and said: “Who said that? What stupid person is speaking?”
Presenters also heard the remark, but tried to brush it off, telling Benatia: “It seems there are some technical problems. No one hear has been heard making any insults.”
A visibly angry Benatia wiped his brow as presenters thanked him for his time before bringing the interview to an abrupt end.
It is thought the remark came from a careless studio technician who had left a microphone on, but it put racism firmly back in the spotlight a week after the controversy surrounding Ghana’s Sulley Muntari.
Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari said Saturday he felt “treated like a criminal” after being sanctioned for walking off the pitch during a 1-0 loss at Cagliari last week where he fell victim to racial abuse.
Muntari was booked by the referee for complaining about the abuse and then shown a red card for walking off the pitch in the final minutes.
After he personally appealed to league bosses, his ban was rescinded on Saturday when he said: “I was being treated like a criminal. How could I be punished when I was the victim of racism?”
Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who once racially abused Patrick Vieira, also complained about his treatment by Juve fans.
“We talk about a lot of racism but it not only black and white but also s***** gypsy or Serb,” he said.
“If you talk about a whole people, it is alright. But this is Italy. When they call me gypsy, I expect it. If you call me gypsy, come and say it to my face. They know where I live – let’s see if they have the balls.”
Statement from TV broadcaster RAI
“Rai is sincerely sorry for the unfortunate incident of racism involving the Juventus player Benatia during transmission Calcio Champagne and fortunately it was not accessible to viewers not being aired.
“Rai has set in motion all the necessary checks to identify the person in charge of what and when the educated technical insights that lead to exclude utter the unacceptable phrases may have been an employee of the company. The search will go on anyway but given the seriousness of Rai meanwhile gives its full and complete solidarity with the footballer and the company for which he is registered . “
Join GhanaStar.com to receive daily email alerts of breaking news in Ghana. GhanaStar.com is your source for all Ghana News. Get the latest Ghana news, breaking news, sports, politics, entertainment and more about Ghana, Africa and beyond.