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'I'd lose my s**t': Ashton Hewitt wades into the Traore racism row

By Liam Heagney
Benetton's Cherif Traore (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Dragons wing Ashton Hewitt has waded into the Cherif Traore racism row at Benetton, claiming there would be scenes at Rodney Parade if any of his teammates ever gave him a banana as a secret Santa present. The Italian prop took to social media on Wednesday to reveal the racist present he had been given by one of his Benetton teammates.

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This resulted in a squad meeting at the club where apologies were offered to Traore and in a follow-up social media post, he suggested that Christmas was a time for forgiveness and that he was moving on from the controversy.

Traore also featured in a video on the Benetton club Twitter account that was published with the accompanying text. “How many times does it happen to make a mistake or offend a member of one’s family, many.

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“Well, this time it happened inside ours. Now what matters is having understood the mistake and apologising. We are a family and as such we will move forward, together, always.”

It was in response to this tweet that Hewitt, a Welsh-based player who regularly calls out racism, gave his view on what had happened in Treviso.

“If one of my teammates gifted me a rotten banana as ‘banter’ for secret Santa, there would be scenes. If my club then got me to do a video talking about apologies and all being family after the fact where other players were laughing along, it’s safe to say I’d lose my shit.”

Hewitt later added: “Benetton have demonstrated one of the reasons why people who face racism at work are often reluctant to speak up about it. It’s the ‘we don’t condone racism’ – whilst condoning racism – that gets me.

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“It’s always the victims of racism that are expected to ‘rise above it’ – usually by people who don’t know what it feels like.”

Hewitt hasn’t been the only non-Benetton player to have their say about the Traore controversy. Munster’s Simon Zebo commented: “Name and shame the scumbag. Should be out of a job.”

Traore had originally written on Instagram: “As traditionally in a team, it’s secret Santa time. A friendly and playful moment. A moment where you can afford to give anonymous gifts to your mates, even stingy, ironic ones. Yesterday [Tuesday], when it was my turn, I found a banana inside my present.

“A rotten banana, inside a bag of moisture. Apart from calling the gesture offensive, what hurt me most and seeing most of my mates present laughing. As if everything is normal. I’m used to it, or better, I’ve had to get used to it, having to make a good face on a bad game whenever I hear racist jokes in order to try not to hate the people close to me.

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“Yesterday was different, though. Thankfully, some comrades, especially foreigners, tried to support me. Outside Italy, a gesture like this is severely condemned even in small realities, and this time I want to say mine.

“I’ve been up all night. Young guys from different backgrounds attended this secret Santa. I have decided not to remain silent this time to ensure that episodes like this don’t happen again to prevent other people finding themselves in my current situation in the future. And hoping the sender will learn a lesson.”

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