Arrigo Sacchi says there are 'too many black players' in Italian youth teams
Iconic former Italy manager Arrigo Sacchi has caused a racism storm by claiming there are “too many black players” in the country.
“I’m certainly not racist and my history as a coach proves that, starting from [Frank] Rijkaard,” Sacchi is quoted as saying in Tuttosport.
“But looking at the Viareggio tournament [a global youth tournament held annually in Tuscany] I feel like saying that there are too many black players, even in the youth teams.
“Italy has no dignity, no pride. It’s not possible that our teams should have 15 foreign players in the squad.”
Sacchi later tried to clarify his remarks, saying: “I’ve been misinterpreted, you think I’m really racist?
“All I said was I saw a game featuring a team who fielded four coloured players.
“My history speaks for itself, I’ve always coached teams with great players from every colour and I’ve brought in a lot, whether to Milan or Madrid.
“I only wanted to underline that we are losing our national pride and identity.”
Former AC Milan boss Sacchi, 68, is widely credited with bringing “Total Football” to Serie A, and made the comments at a ceremony for the Maestrelli prizes in Pistoia.
Sacchi’s last role in the game came as director of football at Real Madrid 10 years ago.
Sacchi had two spells with Milan, and was praised for his contribution during his first stint in charge between 1987 and 1991.
The Italian won seven trophies at the San Siro, including two European Cups and a Serie A title.
He later coached the Italy national team between 1991 and 1996, leading them to the final of the World Cup in 1994, before taking charge of Atletico Madrid and Parma later in his career.
Mario Balotelli, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Kevin Constant are just some of the players who have been subject to racist abuse from fans over the years in Serie A.
A Kick It Out statement reads: “Kick It Out fully condemns the comments made by former Italy and AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi that ‘there are too many black players’ in youth football in Italy. It is further proof of the prejudiced attitudes which continue to exist across the game, and the level of work required to educate those holding influential positions and statuses. Football is an international sport which should be accepting of people of all backgrounds and cultures. The reality is that we are a long way off seeing a game which is fully inclusive.”