Benetton prop Cherif Traorè received a rotten banana from a team-mate for secret Santa

Rugby reacts to Traorè racism storm

The rugby community has been quick to condemn the treatment of Cherif Traorè after he received a rotten banana from a Benetton team-mate, with calls for more meaningful action to be taken by the club after a squad apology was accepted by the Italy prop.

Traorè explained in a now deleted social media post that he’d suffered a sleepless night after receiving the secret Santa present while revealing his hurt that “most” of his other Benetton colleagues laughed at the “offensive gesture”.

Traorè, a 16-cap Azzurri international, told Rugby World in 2021 he had “never” experienced racism in Italy and Benetton released a statement condemning any form of discrimination before calling an emergency meeting where the whole squad apologised to the 28-year-old, which he accepted.

Read more: Cherif Traorè given rotten banana by Benetton team-mate

Benetton released a video of Traorè talking to camera with a caption that when translated included the message: “What matters is having understood the mistake and apologising.” However, plenty of significant figures in the game have called for stronger action to be taken after the unsavoury incident.

Rugby figures call for greater action amid Traorè racism storm

England vice captain Ellis Genge said: “No well done, absolutely right, “gifting” a “team mate” a rotten banana for secret Santa is not a big deal and a simple apology will suffice!

“If there is no further action on this from Benetton then everything we’ve done for “rugby against racism” has been a tick box for most.”

Former England winger Denny Solomona, who most recently featured for North Harbour in New Zealand, agreed with Genge’s sentiment, quote tweeting his message and saying: “100%!!”

Former Premiership star and Australia and Tonga international Cooper Vuna said: “Quick do a video to save us , F*** the actual person who’s given you the banana – it’ll blow over in a week! Some family. Shame!!!”

Ireland international and Munster star Simon Zebo called for the culprit in the Traorè racism storm to be identified and sacked. He said: “Name and shame the s***bag. Should be out of a job.”

Stade Francais back and former Wasps star Paolo Odogwu commented on the video of Traorè shared by Benetton, saying: “Crazyy lack of accountability here, doesn’t feel much like “family”  making the person whose already suffered do the PR.”

Dragons winger Ashton Hewitt said: “If one of my teammates gifted me a rotten banana as ‘banter’ for secret Santa, there would be scenes.

“If my club then got me to do a video talking about apologies and all being family after the fact where other players were laughing along, it’s safe to say I’d lose my s***.”

Hewitt added: “Benetton have demonstrated one of the reasons why people who face racism at work are often reluctant to speak up about it. It’s the ‘we don’t condone racism’ – whilst condoning racism – that gets me.

“It’s always the victims of racism that are expected to ‘rise above it’ – usually by people who don’t know what it feels like.”

The United Rugby Championship confirmed it is investigating the incident and said in a statement: “The United Rugby Championship has been in communication with Benetton Rugby regarding the incident first identified in a social media post of Cherif Traorè the Italian international prop forward.

“Benetton Rugby has been asked to provide a full report on what has occurred and what meaningful action will be taken as a result.

“Racism and discrimination of any kind are abhorrent, completely unacceptable in society and are utterly counter to the values of the sport of rugby and the United Rugby Championship.

“There will be no further comment until we have additional information on the incident.”

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.