Italian football has been hit by another race storm after on-loan Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia was called a ‘s***** Moroccan’ live on television.
The centre back was giving an interview to Italian broadcasters Rai after Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Torino before he heard a technician’s voice in his earpiece asking:
‘What are you saying, s***** Moroccan?’
The insult was not broadcast but Benatia stopped mid-sentence and asked:
‘Who said that in the background? I heard someone talking in the background. Who said that? I heard an insult.’
The Rai presenter then cut short the interview because of ‘technical difficulties’ and a Juventus press officer said that Benatia had heard a racist insult concerning his nationality.
The broadcaster later issued an apology for the ‘deplorable incident’.
‘Rai is sincerely sorry for the deplorable incident of racism that involved the Juventus player Benatia during our Calcio Champagne program and that fortunately was not heard by the viewers, as it did not go on air,’ the national broadcaster said in a statement.
‘Rai has put into motion all attempts to identify who was responsible for what happened and at the moment technical analysis excludes that the unacceptable phrases were uttered by a dependent of our company.
‘The investigation nevertheless continues but considering the gravity of what happened Rai meanwhile offers our complete and total solidarity to the player and his club,’ the statement added.
It comes in the wake of former Portsmouth and Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari receiving a one-game ban, then overturned, after he walked off the pitch last weekend having been booked for complaining to the referee about racist abuse in the crowd.