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Treviso suspend player in Traore Christmas banana racism row

The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) said on Thursday that Treviso have suspended an unnamed player after black prop Cherif Traore received a rotten banana as a Christmas gift in a race row which has also prompted a formal investigation.

Traore, a 28-year-old Italian international, who was born in Guinea, was given the present on Tuesday during a Secret Santa exchange, a game where individuals buy presents that are then distributed anonymously.

“The FIR informs that the Federal Prosecutor has launched the investigations necessary to ascertain the facts, as well as the collective and individual responsibilities, to protect the founding values and reputation of the game,” the body said.

“Benetton Rugby has simultaneously decided to suspend one of its members as a precaution, for the entire duration of the investigations by the Public Prosecutor’s Office,” it added.

Treviso, backed by clothing company Benetton, face fellow Italians Zebre Parma in the United Rugby Championship (URC) this weekend. 

Earlier on Thursday, the URC had asked Treviso to provide a report on the “abhorrent” racism suffered by Traore.

England prop Ellis Genge, who captained his country in the summer of 2021, slammed the incident with the Six Nations tournament running a ‘Rugby Against Racism’ campaign for the past two years.

“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!,” he tweeted.

“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.”

In an initial statement, Treviso said it condemned all forms of racism and discrimination.

They later said the whole team had been called to a meeting with top executives, who repeated their condemnation of racism, and all the players apologised to 16-time international Traore.

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