Former AC Milan and Italy manager Arrigo Sacchi is adamant he is not a racist. Sure, didn't I sign Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit while managing AC Milan, he pleads.
Nonetheless, he believes that the Italian national team 'has no dignity or pride.' This, he says, is principally because there are 'too many foreigners' and 'too many blacks' playing at youth level.
His recent ire was focused on the famous Viareggio tournament, Italy's annual U20 tournament, featuring clubs from Italy and all over the world. Non-racist Sacchi was struck by the number of black players milling about the place.
Italy now has no dignity or pride, because we have too many foreigners playing in the under-20 leagues: in our youth sectors there are too many blacks. But look at the Viareggio tournament. I would say that there are too many coloured players, also in the under-20 teams in Italy.
Sacchi can't get his head around accusations of racism however. They seem to have come out of leftfield as far as he's concerned. He's nonplussed.
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.
[Gazzetto dello Sport]