MILAN. — Former AC Milan and Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi has hit out at Italy’s youth set-up by claiming it features “too many blacks” and “too many foreigners”. And legendary manager Sacchi has sparked a racism storm after inappropriate comments about black players at an awards ceremony. The former Milan coach is hailed as one of the game’s great thinkers after assembling one of the greatest club sides of all-time, but disappointed his many fans on Monday night with an ill-judged rant about the composition of Italian youth sides. Sacchi even threw in a disclaimer that he wasn’t racist before claiming that there were simply too many black players.
“I’m certainly not racist and my history as a coach proves that, starting from (Frank) Rijkaard” Sacchi had said at an awards ceremony, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport .
Sacchi, a renowned football coach and innovator who notably helped Milan to back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990, was speaking at an awards ceremony in Montecatini Terme on Monday evening.
According to a website report on La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 68-year-old Sacchi used the occasion to hit out at the number of non-native Italians involved in the lower ranks of Italian football.
“Italy now has no dignity or pride, because we have too many foreigners playing in the Under-20 leagues: in our youth sectors there are too many blacks,” said Sacchi, a former director of Italy’s national team at Under-21 level.
After a furore about his comments, Sacchi later attempted to clarify that he had been misunderstood.
Sacchi claimed he was not racist because he signed a player like Frank Rijkaard, a Dutchman of Surinamese origin. But he insisted that “too many coloured players” featured for Italian youth sides at the famous Viareggio tournament, known in footballing circles as the Viareggio Cup World Football Tournament.
“I’m certainly not racist, as my coaching history demonstrates with Rijkaard,” added Sacchi. — AFP.