MILAN, Italy, May 7 – 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 say: “What are you saying, shitty Moroccan?”
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 hear 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After he personally appealed to league bosses, his ban was rescinded on Saturday when he said: “I was being treated like a criminal.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?”
In a statement, Rai offered its apologies to Benatia, who is on loan at the Turin giants from Bayern Munich.
“Rai is sincerely sorry for the unfortunate incident of racism involving Juventus player Benatia during the Calcio Champagne programme,” said the statement.
It added they were carrying out “the necessary checks to identify the person in charge” when the “unacceptable words” were used.