Italy Prop Traore ‘Wants To Forgive’ Team Mates Who Gifted Rotten Banana In Secret Santa Shame

Cherif Traore

United Rugby Championship organisers have written to Benetton seeking a full explanation of the racist incident involving their prop, Cherif Traore.

The Guinea-born Italy international received a rotten banana as part of a ‘Secret Santa’ ceremony.

Traore has accepted an apology from his teammates after they were gathered to the club’s training ground.

While accepting the apology, he also insisted: “Forgiveness… doesn’t mean forgetting“.

28-year-old Traore said he had been “hurt” by the “offensive” gesture made by an anonymous colleague at his Italian club side, Benetton – as the prop hit out at “racist jokes“.

What hurt me most was seeing most of my mates present laughing. As if everything is normal,” he added in an Instagram post.

Following the post, the Treviso-based club, which plays in the United Rugby Championship, released a statement condemning racism.

All Benetton players were also summoned to the training ground on Wednesday afternoon where they apologised to the prop and were addressed by club president Amerino Zatta.

Now, in a new post, Traore said he has accepted the club’s apology.

He said: “Christmas is kindness, Christmas is gratitude, Christmas is forgiveness… I speak these words over my life this year and I want to put them into practice.

I’m grateful for my club, my team and everyone who showed me closeness.

And I want to forgive, which I admit, doesn’t mean forgetting something, being passive about it when it happened.

But I want to lick my wounds and carry on with my head up high with no weight on my heart.”

In a separate statement following the meeting with Zatta and the players, Traore wrote it was “an opportunity to discuss and understand how what one of my team-mates did when exchanging Christmas presents is purely the result of idiocy and nothing else”.

I appreciate and accept his apology and that of the entire team. I’m happy with the gesture and I’m sure what happened will make the group even more solid.”

Traore initially detailed the incident in a previous social media post that was subsequently deleted and then republished.

He wrote: “Christmas is coming and as traditionally in a team it’s Secret Santa time. A friendly and playful moment. A moment where you can afford to give anonymous gifts to your mates, even stingy, ironic ones.

When it was my turn, I found a banana inside my present. A rotten banana, inside a bag of moisture.

“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. (This) was different though.”

Traore, who emigrated to Italy from west Africa as a seven-year-old and has won 16 Italy caps, added that outside Italy “a gesture like this is severely condemned even in small instances“.