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‘What hurt me most was the laughter’ – Italy rugby ace Cherif Traore given rotten banana in vile club Secret Santa abuse

AN ITALY rugby star blasted “racist” behaviour at his club’s Christmas dinner after getting a rotten banana in a shocking Secret Santa exchange.

Benetton prop Cherif Traore was left unable to sleep but “what hurt most was seeing most of my mates laughing” at his treatment.

Italy and Benetton Treviso prop Cherif Traore said he couldn’t sleep after the treatment he received during the club’s Christmas dinner

The Guinea-born ace, 28, told how what should have been a “friendly and playful” event turned for the worst when he received a banana in a rubbish bag.

The 15-cap Azzurri international said he normally doesn’t react to “racist jokes” to avoid “making enemies” but has spoken out in the hope it stops other suffering the same experience.

Traore posted on social media: “Apart from finding it an offensive gesture, what hurt me the most was to see that most of my team-mates who were present were laughing.

“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.

“Yesterday was different, though. Thankfully some comrades, especially foreigners, tried to support me.”

Traore came to Italy with his family aged seven when they immigrated from West Africa.

And he explained why he’s now gone public on abuse he has faced.

He said: “Young guys from different backgrounds attended the 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. And hoping the sender will learn a lesson…”

Benetton Rugby responded with a statement saying they have “always condemned with the utmost firmness any expression of racism and/or form of discrimination”.

The 15-time Italian champions said the incident “has nothing to do with sport” and the club stood for “respecting people, their culture, their ethnicity, their faith and their dignity”.

Benetton also compete against the elite in the United Rugby Championship, European Rugby Challenge Cup and European Champions Cup.

Guinea-born rugby star Cherif Traore added that he didn’t normally respond to ‘racist jokes’ so as ‘not to ‘hate the people close to me’

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