Italy prop Ivan Nemer has been suspended until 30 June by the Italian federation after he gave his Benetton teammate Cherif Traorè a rotten banana as part of the club’s secret Santa.
An Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) statement said “ In defining the sanction, the Federal Court, in accepting the request for a plea bargain, took into consideration Nemer’s desire to shed full clarity on what happened, the regret represented towards his partner, the recognition of the shame caused by his behaviour to the image of the Benetton Rugby franchise, of Italian rugby and of the game in general, as well as the exemplary behaviour always maintained by the athlete on and off the field during his career.”
Argentinian born Nemer has confirmed he will not appeal and will also have to complete a racism awareness course whilst also coaching asylum seekers during his suspension. Nemer said “Racism has not and will never have any role in my life, just as it shouldn’t have in the life of any of us,” said the 24-year-old. “I am deeply sorry for what happened, for the stupidity of my gesture, for the displeasure caused to a friend, for having caused damage to my team, my teammates, the country I represent and the game I love. I come from a multicultural country like Argentina, where cultures have been mixing for over a century, and I’ve always shared the locker room and the field with teammates and friends from all over the world. What happened does not represent me, but at the same time it must make me and make us reflect on how much more needs to be done to change our culture, overcome the most blatant stereotypes, bring us closer to each other even more than is already happening. I accept the disqualification and the reintegration process with serenity but above all I trust, in the months and years to come, that I will be able to contribute with my testimony to making more and more young rugby players aware of issues that must be addressed and understood to improve not only our sport, but the world we live in.”
Guinea born Traorè posted details of the incident on Instagram on 21st December 2022 and said “What hurt me most was seeing most of my mates present laughing. As if everything is normal.”