Rugby player Ivan Nemer | Photo: ANSA
Rugby player Ivan Nemer | Photo: ANSA

Italian rugby player Ivan Nemer will start coaching migrants after giving a rotten banana to a Black teammate for Christmas. As a result of the racist prank, he was banned from the sport for almost half a year.

Italian rugby player Ivan Nemer has started a program which aims to fight racism.

Nemer -- who is Italian but born in Argentina -- has played as a prop for the Italian national team and Benetton Treviso but is currently suspended until June 30 after a racist incident last December.

The Italian rugby federation and his club agreed Nemer would participate in anti-racism trainings and coach refugees and migrants as part of an initiative led by the Italian rugby federation.

In Benetton Treviso's secret Santa gift exchange, Nemer gave his Black teammate Cherif Traoré -- who is also Italian and came to the country as a child from Guinea -- a rotten banana.

Player reported racist incident 'to make sure this never happens again'

Back then, Traoré shared what happened on Instagram. "The thing that hurt me the most was seeing most of my teammates laughing... I'm used to, or rather, I've had to get used to, having to put on a brave face every time I hear racist jokes to try not to antagonize the people around me."

He decided to report the incident, explaining that "I decided not to be silent this time to make sure that incidents like this never happen again..."

While the culprit was initially unknown, Nemer was soon revealed to be the source of the racist gift.

The FIR has tasked the organization 'Il Razzismo è una brutta storia' with giving Nemer an anti-racism awareness training and setting up activities with the Benetton club and other associations aimed at combatting racism.

This began with Nemer taking part in an event on March 22 at a Verona bookstore, where the organization's publication 'fanzine' -- which contains opinion pieces, cartoons and poems written by victims of racism and activists -- was presented.

Nemer to coach migrants, refugees in rugby

During the magazine's presentation, Nemer met with sociologist Gustavo Garcia, who will be his tutor in the coming weeks, according to a press release by 'Il Razzismo è una brutta storia' published on April 11.

Activities involving Nemer will include visits to facilities supporting migrants in transit at the border between Italy and France, and meetings with associations and clubs fighting social inequality in Padua and Treviso, according to 'Il Razzismo è una brutta storia'. Nemer is also expected to lead rugby practices for migrants and refugees during these visits.

"Honestly, I had never attended meetings discussing such topics and this has helped me realize how much we can improve as a society," Nemer was quoted by the organization as saying. "I am curious and exited for the path ahead of me and the idea that I can pass on my experience."


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