Italian soccer coaching great Arrigo Sacchi recently opined that there were “too many black players” in Italian football. In the aftermath of the uproar, Sacchi vehemently denies charges of racism thrown his way.
At a league award ceremony on Monday the former AC Milan and Italy coach was reported as saying that Italian soccer teams had too many blacks and foreigners on them.
“I’m certainly not racist and my history as a coach proves that, starting from [Frank] Rijkaard” Sacchi said at an awards ceremony on Monday.
But the coach went on to say 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,” he concluded.
But as criticism grew, first on social media and then in the press, the coach hailed as an innovator that helped Milan to back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 was forced to clarify his point.
Sacchi claimed he was being “misrepresented” by the reports that his comment was racist at heart.
“I only wanted to underline that we are losing our national pride and identity,” he explained.
Sacchi said that he only meant to point out that teams had too many players imported from elsewhere and not enough native Italians interested enough to play.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org