Former AC Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi is the latest figure to be involved in a racism row in Italian football.
Sacchi, 68, who has also managed Parma and Atletico Madrid as well as the Italian national side, has been quoted in Gazzetta dello Sport insisting that the country has too many black players.
He said: “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.”
The ex-Rossoneri manager has since tried to quash any claims that his comments were racist – insisting his words have been taken out of context.
He added: “I have been misrepresented, how could I be racist?
“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.”
Sacchi’s comments have stirred up a furious backlash from Twitter users, including former England striker Gary Lineker.
He Tweeted: “There are too many racists in Italian football.”