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Mehdi Benatia receives apology after ending interview over racist insult

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Italian broadcaster Rai has apologised after Juventus defender Medhi Benatia cut a television interview short after claiming to hear a racist insult in his earpiece.

The 30-year-old Morocco international, who was born in France, was speaking to reporters following Juve’s 1-1 league draw with Torino on Saturday, when he ended the interview abruptly.

Footage published on gazzetta.it shows Benatia saying: “Which stupid person is speaking? They called me a s***** little Moroccan.” He had been discussing disciplinary decisions during the game.

Rai called the comments “unacceptable” but insisted they were not uttered by one of their employees.

A statement published on the broadcaster’s online press portal read: “Rai is genuinely sorry for the regrettable episode of racism that involved Juventus player Benatia during the ‘Calcio Champagne’ broadcast, which fortunately was not audible to viewers.

“Rai has put in place all the necessary checks to identify the person responsible for the incident and at the moment we can say that the unacceptable phrase was not uttered by an employee of our company.

“The investigation continues, but considering the gravity of the situation, Rai stands in full solidarity with the footballer and with the club he represents.”

Benatia is on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich and has made 14 appearances in all competitions as Juve attempt to complete a Serie A, Champions League and Coppa Italia treble.

Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari was last week dismissed during a league game in Cagliari after walking off the pitch in protest at the yellow card issued when he complained to referee Daniele Minelli about racist abuse from the stands.

The subsequent suspension was overturned by the Italian football federation and Muntari was an unused substitute during Pescara’s home defeat to Crotone on Sunday.