Former AC Milan and Italian national team coach Arrigo Sacchi is defending himself for his controversial comments regarding the number of black players in the country’s youth system.
Sacchi was quoted at an awards dinner by La Gazzetta dello Sport, saying “there are too many players of color” after watching a youth tournament in Italy.
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Below is the full quote from Sacchi.
I’m not racist and my history as a coach shows that, but watching at the Viareggio Cup (a youth football tournament) makes me think there are too many players of color.
Business interests now come first. Italy has no dignity, it has no pride: you shouldn’t have squads including 15 foreigners.”
Sacchi would go on to “clarify” his statements, saying he was purely speaking on a matter of national pride.
I have been misrepresented, do you really think I’m racist?
I was just saying that I’d watched a match in which there was a team that included four boys of color. My history speaks for itself, I’ve always trained teams with diverse players of color and they won a lot, both at Milan and in Madrid.
I just wanted to underline the fact that we’re losing our national pride and identity.”
In a country that is trying to stop racism in football, one of it’s most legendary coaches is making headlines for racist remarks.
Just earlier this year, president of the Italian FA Carlo Tavecchio was suspended from all FIFA activities for six months following his racist comments calling African players “banana eaters” in July.
Sacchi is a legend in Italy after leading AC Milan to back-to-back European Cup titles in 1989 and 1990, while also managing the national side to the World Cup final in 1994. He retired in 2005 as the Director of Football for Real Madrid.
It’s a shame to see comments like this coming from such a massive figure, and there is clearly no place for them in the sport. Hopefully the Italian FA will try to make amends for Sacchi’s ignorance and help stop things like this from happening again.