MILAN // Italian football has been hit by a second racist storm inside a week after Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia was insulted live on air during a live, post-match television interview with Italian state broadcaster Rai.
Benatia, a Morocco international, was being interviewed following a 1-1 Serie A draw at home with city rivals 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 use an expletive and ask: “What are you saying ... Moroccan?”
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Benatia, who had been answering a question about Juventus winning their 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 here 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 says 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After he personally appealed to league bosses, his ban was rescinded on Saturday when he said: “I was being treated like a criminal.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?”
* Agence France-Presse
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