Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has insisted that Italy 'is not a racist country,' despite the new Serie A season being blighted by a series of racially fuelled attacks on black players.
Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan spoke out against discrimination in football earlier in the season after he received racist abuse from Juventus fans in their 1-1 draw in September.
Kalidou Koulibaly was the latest superstar to suffer racist abuse from the stands following Napoli's victory at Fiorentina on Sunday evening. Tiemoue Bakayoko and Andre-Frank Anguissa were also racially insulted.
This most recent string of racially charged incidents have become a major talking point around Europe, as the return of fans to stadia has coincided with the return of discrimination towards players on the pitch.
Giorgio Chiellini was asked about racism in football ahead of Italy's clash with Spain, and although he admitted he was 'ashamed' of the attack on Koulibaly and that 'more must be done', he stressed that Italy as a whole is 'not a racist country'.
“It is unacceptable," Chiellini began.
"We need laws and rules that are applied, this is the most important thing. I was ashamed, as an Italian and a Tuscan, also because Italy is not a racist country for me.
"Something more must be done, otherwise from the outside we give a bad image of ourselves."
Chiellini's Juventus teammate Moise Kean received horrendous abuse in a trip to Cagliari in April 2019. Leonardo Bonucci then sparked controversy by outrageously suggesting that the blame was '50-50' between the Italian forward and the supporters.
Italy face Spain on Wednesday evening in the first semi-final of the UEFA Nations League in a rematch of the Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley Stadium. Italy triumphed on penalties on that occasion on their way to becoming champions of Europe.