Italy: Benetton prop Cherif Traore calls teammates out after racist Secret Santa gift

Italy prop Cherif Traore has called out his teammates after receiving a rotten banana during Benetton’s Secret Santa.

Benetton responded to the incident with a statement saying they take a strong stance against racism.

The incident

Traore has revealed that he was given a rotten banana during Benetton’s Secret Santa, drawing laughter from some of his teammates. 

The 28-year-old posted on his social media to outline what he describes as an “offensive gesture”, but he has since deleted the post.

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The 16 test cap international wrote on Instagram: “Christmas is coming, and as is traditional in a team, it’s Secret Santa time.

“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 teammates 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….”


In response, the United Rugby Championship club said they take a strong stance against racism, but their statement did not mention an investigation.

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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Munster and Ireland fullback Simon Zebo called for the culprit to be named and shamed.

Squidge Rugby analyst Will Owen wrote on Twitter: ‘If whoever did this to Traore isn’t sacked by the New Year, it simply isn’t good enough. How are you supposed to play in a team alongside someone who treats you like this?’

Traore’s background

The front rower moved to Italy at the age of seven, making the journey from Guinea with his family to join his father.

He made his Azzurri debut in 2018 under Conor O’Shea and has represented Italy A and under 20s.

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