By Ben Church, Aleks Klosok and David Close, CNN
AS Roma player Felix Afena-Gyan says he believes there was “no racist intent” in a comment made by an unidentified person while the Ghanaian forward unboxed a new pair of shoes given to him by manager Jose Mourinho.
In a video posted on social media Monday, the 18-year-old forward is seen unwrapping the gift after he scored the only goals in Roma’s 2-0 win over Genoa on Sunday.
In an otherwise touching moment, Afena-Gyan and Mourinho hug once the gift is initially revealed, but an unidentified person can be heard in the background saying, “There are bananas inside,” in Italian.
Afena-Gyan, who is Black, and Mourinho do not appear to acknowledge what was said and the forward proceeds to try on the new shoes, smiling and laughing with his teammates.
“Look at this, it’s a new model,” Mourinho tells him in English, as Afena-Gyan smiles.
He then sits down and models the shoes for everyone in the room, who are all off camera, and even does a playful dance at the end to show them off.
Reuters reports Mourinho promised to buy him the shoes after the match.
The video has been posted on social media by an unknown person. CNN has also reached out to Afena-Gyan for more context on the story.
Hours after the video was posted on social, he also posted a clip on his Instagram but began the video immediately after the banana comment was made. He also added a lengthy message downplaying any racist intent regarding the remark.
“I have been reading a lot of comments about the video I published earlier today of a special moment for me with the coach,” he wrote.
“I want to assure you all that I was not offended by the background comment made in the video in any way — and that I truly believe there was no racist intent.
“Since the first day I arrived at the club I have been welcomed into the family by everyone, who have joked with me like they do all members of the family.
“Because they see that I eat bananas a lot that has become a thing we laugh about sometimes — and I believe the comment was another example of that.”
He also indicated he’s moving on.
“Thanks for your concern,” he wrote. “Now, let’s get back to concentrating on the next game.”
CNN has reached out to AS Roma for comment but has not received a response.
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