Rubgy game in the park (icon image)
Photo: MICK TSIKAS/EPA
Rugby club Benetton Treviso suspended a player on Thursday.
As the Italian international Cherif Traorè announced on Instagram, the now suspended team-mate had previously given him a rotten banana as a secret gift.
Traorè, a 28-year-old striker who was born in Guinea, described the anonymous gift as an "insulting gesture".
Traorè, who is black, said some of his foreign-born teammates tried to support him.
Other players even laughed when he opened the gift "as if everything was normal".
"I'm used to it.
Or rather, I've had to get used to it, putting on a brave face every time I hear racist jokes to try not to hate those close to me," Traorè wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
"Yesterday was different though."
He lay awake all night, he writes.
"I have decided not to remain silent this time to ensure that such incidents do not happen again and to prevent other people from being in my situation in the future." Traorè has lived in Italy since he was seven and also plays for them Italy national rugby team.
The club turns on the sports prosecutor's office - after a day of waiting
His club issued two statements on Wednesday about the incident, but initially made no suggestion that they would investigate the incident or take any action against the player responsible.
On Thursday, the club changed tack and issued a third statement, saying the National Sports Prosecutor's Office would investigate the incident "to protect the core values and reputation of the sport of ball".
It also said: "At the same time, Benetton Rugby has decided to suspend one of its players as a precautionary measure pending the investigation by the prosecutor." The player's name was not released.
Benetton Treviso said it is up to state investigators to impose sporting or administrative sanctions.
In a video on Benetton Treviso's Instagram page, Traorè explains that he forgives his team-mate.
He didn't act out of malice.
"He realized he made a mistake," says Traorè.
"He apologized and I accepted the apology."
Traorè writes on his own Instagram page: "Christmas is kindness, Christmas is gratitude, Christmas is forgiveness." And further: "It does not mean that I forget the affair or that I am passive about what happened."
Black athletes have already been racially insulted several times in Italy.
In football, black players are regularly taunted by fans and in October, Paola Egonu, a black volleyball player, announced her retirement from the Italy national team after her nationality was questioned.