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Sunday 17 December 2017

Arrigo Sacchi denies he is a racist after claiming youth teams have "too many players of colour"

Former Italy and AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi
Former Italy and AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi

Former Italy head coach Arrigo Sacchi has denied being racist after saying there are "too many players of colour" in youth teams.

Speaking at an awards ceremony in Montecatini Terme, Sacchi appeared to take issue with the number of foreign players currently plying their trade in the country.

The 68-year-old, who also coached AC Milan and Real Madrid, was quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport as saying: "I'm not racist and my history as a coach shows that, but watching at the Viareggio Cup (a youth football tournament held in Tuscany) makes me think there are too many players of colour.

"Business interests now come first. Italy has no dignity, it has no pride: you shouldn't have squads including 15 foreigners."

Sacchi famously employed black players Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit alongside Marco van Basten in a successful attacking trio at Milan and pointed to this fact when trying to clarify his comments.

He later added in Gazzetta: "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 colour.

"My history speaks for itself, I've always trained teams with diverse players of colour 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 November, newly-elected Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio was banned from involvement with FIFA for six months after referring to African players "eating bananas".

UEFA imposed a similar sanction on the 71-year-old while the FIGC cleared him of any wrongdoing.

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