After a week in which Italian football has had to deal with yet another case of a player being subject to racist abuse, the issue reared its head again yesterday. That in itself is not exactly shocking, unfortunately, but the way in which Mehdi Benatia was made subject to such abuse was absolutely bizarre.
While Sully Muntari was subject to slurs from the crowd, something which is regrettably commonplace at Italian grounds, Juventus' Moroccan defender was insulted via his ear-piece during a live interview. It sounds odd, but the footage is even more bizarre.
While conducting a post match interview with Italian broadcaster Rai Sport following a 1-1 draw with Torino, Benatia was discussing the sending off of an opposition player when a mysterious voice could be heard calling him a 'Moroccan shit'.
In the video below you can see Benatia's confusion as a voice different to that of the in-studio host interrupted the Juventus player by reportedly chiming in with "What are you talking about? You Moroccan shit."
The hosts then claimed that they were having technical difficulties before the interview was cut short.
— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) May 7, 2017
The in-studio hosts were quick to point out that it was not them who made the slur, instead suggesting that it may have been someone at the stadium where the channel's equipment was set up, but Juventus have since debunked that theory.
In an official statement, the club have understanably called for an explanation and absolved themselves of any part in the incident.
Following the regrettable insult Medhi Benatia heard through his earpiece during Calcio Champagne, Juventus Football Club wishes to express its concern over the incident.
While acknowledging the RAI statement expressing solidarity, everyone - and the player first and foremost - deserves an explanation about what occurred.
A number of informal comments, including on social media, have suggested the alleged "interference" came from the production service Juventus provided Rai Sport at Juventus Stadium. That suggestion is factually unbelievable and technically implausible, given the audio line (n-1) runs directly from RAI headquarters in Milan into the earpieces. On-site production does not have direct contact with the guest.
Juventus hopes that Rai Sport's internal investigation continues without them resorting to excuses which tend to play down what happened and distort the facts.
An extremely regrettable cock-up by the production crew, there will surely be an investigation into what happened and someone will likely be made responsible.
Not what a player needs to be dealing with in a post-match interview, fair play to Juventus for taking a firm stance on it.