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22nd Dec 2022

“Name and shame the scumbag” – Italian player receives rotten banana in club’s Secret Santa

Patrick McCarry

‘What hurt me most and seeing most of my mates present laughing’

Benetton Treviso has condemned the actions of an, as yet, unnamed player after he ‘gifted’ his teammate Cherif Traore a rotten banana as part of the club’s Secret Santa.

The 28-year-old made the sad revelation on his Instagram account, on Wednesday. Although he has since deleted the post, his strong comments have been far reaching. Traore wrote:

“Christmas is coming and as is traditional in a team, it’s Secret Santa time. A friendly and playful moment. A moment where you can give anonymous gifts to your mates, even ironic ones. Yesterday, when it was my turn, I found a banana inside my present. A rotten banana, inside a wet bag. Apart from calling the gesture offensive, what hurt me most and seeing most of my mates present laughing. As if everything is normal.

“I’m used to it, or I’ve had to get used to it, having to put a brave face on whenever I hear racist jokes in order to try not to hate the people close to me. Yesterday was different though. Thankfully, some friends, especially foreigners, tried to support me. Outside Italy a gesture like this is severely condemned.

“I’ve 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 to prevent other people finding themselves in my current situation in the future. And hoping the sender will learn a lesson… “

Cherif Traore was born in Guinea, in West Africa, but immigrated to Italy when he was only seven. He played 11 times for Italy’s U20 side before securing a move to Benetton Treviso in 2015.

In 2021, Traore was part of the Benetton squad that won the Rainbow Cup with the Italian outfit and he has 15 Test caps for the Azzurri.

Cherif Traore

‘Racism and discrimination are not part of our culture’

As his Italy teammate Maxime Mbanda (pictured playing against Ireland above) has said, “Both racism and ignorance can only be fought with knowledge, acceptance and a smile.”

Since Cherif Traore took to Instagram to share the Secret Santa post, his club has released a statement.

Benetton Rugby has reiterated ‘that it has always condemned with the utmost firmness any expression of racism and/or form of discrimination’. The club’s statement continues:

‘Racism and discrimination 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 Rugby will always be on the side of respecting people, their culture, their ethnicity, their faith and their dignity.’

For now, the club statement has fallen short of opening an investigation into the matter or sought for the teammate of Traore to identify himself.

Munster, Ireland and Lions star Simon Zebo has been appalled by the Italian prop’s revelation, and believes the player that gave Traore a rotten banana ‘should be out of a job’.

Cherif Traore played 13 times for Benetton last season but has only one appearance, in the Challenge Cup, so far in 2022/23.

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