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Breaking news: former Italy manager denies he is racist

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Arrigo Sacchi believes fielding black players demonstrates that Italy no longer has any national pride.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Today in Italian football news, yet another prominent Italian has managed to make himself look like an idiot. Arrigo Sacchi, former coach at AC Milan, Real Madrid, and the Italy national team, shared his views after Inter won the yearly Viareggio youth cup.

I'm certainly not racist and my history as a coach demonstrates that ... But look at the Viareggio tournament I would say that there are too many black players. Italy has no dignity, no pride. It should not be possible that our teams should have 15 foreign players in the squad.

Then Sacchi attempted a furious backpedal, pulling out the "I'm not a racist but..." excuse:

I just said I saw a game featuring a team who fielded four coloured boys. My history speaks for itself, I always coached teams with different colours and I bought many, both at Milan and at Madrid.

I just wanted to point out that we are losing our national pride and identity.

Ok, let's break this down.

It should not be possible that our teams should have 15 foreign players in the squad.

Yeah. That's called globalization, that's called Europe, that's called Bosman. Even after the new Serie A rules, requiring four Italian-born citizens and four academy players, take affect, 15 foreign players will still be permitted.

Then again, Milan has just 13 non-Italians on their first team. An excellent model for the rest of Serie A. All teams should aspire to 11th, to bust-ups between teammates on the pitch, to making such ridiculous accusations about cheating that the rest of the world takes Juve's side.

But look at the Viareggio tournament I would say that there are too many black players.

Sacchi offsets this offensive statement by noting that teams shouldn't have those 15 foreign players in the squad. Apparently the 68-year-old automatically equates "black" with "foreign." Mario Balotelli might have a few words to say about such a remark.

Really what Sacchi is saying here, though, is that the Inter side that lifted the Viareggio Cup was just too black. A quick glance at Wikipedia shows that their primavera squad does include 13 non-Italians. Six of those kids are from Europe and the United States. Seven are from Africa.

Italy has no dignity, no pride.

To Sacchi, the use of black players by Italian clubs is shameful. How dare they not use the blond-haired, blue-eyed angels from the north? Forget the fact that the majority of academies on the peninsula are an embarrassment. Let's not think about the way Gervinho revived Roma. We'll discount the recent run of brilliance from Fiorentina's Khouma Babacar. Oh, and it's a good thing the viola sold Juan Cuadrado, that Milan got rid of Balotelli last season, and Juventus are probably going to earn huge amounts of cash for Paul Pogba.

But...

I just wanted to point out that we are losing our national pride and identity.

Is Sacchi concerned for the future of the azzurri, or is he lamenting the fact that there's no "identity" in calcio anymore? Or is he simply tired of seeing black people?

Italy, as a whole, tends not to go in for the whole national-pride thing. The population tends to be more proud of the region or city they're from, not the tricolore flying from government buildings. The reference to national pride makes you wonder what sort of Italy Sacchi is living in.

Not the Italy in which 22 percent of the foreign-born population is from Africa. Not an Italy in which people with bloodlines from the Sub-Saharan are permitted to have Italian passports. And not the one in which Angelo OgbonnaStefano Okaka and Mario Balotelli don the azzurri kit.

It's ok though. Sacchi's not a racist. He proved it with his version of "But I have friends that are black!"

I just said I saw a game featuring a team who fielded four colored boys. My history speaks for itself, I always coached teams with different colors and I bought many, both at Milan and at Madrid.

Four. Colored. Boys.

The horror. The horror that these primavera teams would have the temerity to use players that aren't even white. How will Italy ever return to its glory days? How will calcio survive? How do such people know what a football is? Can they even tie their shoes?

The horror of actually making such a statement. This man, this immensely respected coach, opened his mouth and allowed himself to express shock at watching four colored boys play on the same team. And people wonder why Italian fans can throw bananas at opposing players and only receive a light slap on the wrist in return. They can't believe the president of Italian football would dare label Africans as banana-eaters.

Sacchi did, of course, coach black players, with Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard two of his most famous buys during his first spell at Milan. Liberian George Weah was around when Sacchi returned to the rossoneri, though he'd been recruited by Fabio Capello.

It seems, then, what Sacchi is saying is that, while he is personally not a racist, he's not willing to see his country's football darken. It's acceptable to bring in a couple European-based blacks to help your team start a total-football revolution, but to groom these "coloreds" right from the start is despicable. Soon they'll be eligible to play for the national team. They'll be pushing out the real Italians from both country and club. The azzurri will never again win a World Cup. Milan will never lift another Champions League trophy.

And it's all because the Viareggio featured a team that dared to put four black players on the pitch.