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Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ivorian-French footballer breaks silence, speaks on being held at gunpoint by police

AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko

Africans in Sports. African footballers. Ivorian-French footballer, Tiémoué Bakayoko, has spoken out against Italian police who held him at gunpoint after mistaking him for someone else.

Bakayoko, together with a male passenger, were stopped as they drove in the Porta Garibaldi area of Milan on 3 July just as authorities were searching for suspects linked in an alleged shootout the previous night.

Footage of the French midfielder emerged online on Monday, in which Bakayoko is seen being searched by police before an officer recognises he’s a footballer which prompted racism accusations.

Milan police apologised for the error, but in a video posted on social media, Tiémoué Bakayoko, said the issue was not the error of identity. “Making an error is human. I don’t have a problem admitting that, however, the methods they used pose a problem,” he said. “It needs to be made known that in the video you don’t see everything, perhaps just the most calm part.

“I found myself with a gun a metre away from me, and so did the passenger. They really put our lives in danger. The consequences could have been more serious if I had not remained calm and if I had not been recognised in time.”

Milan police have defended the officers’ actions, claiming the racism allegations were “out of place”. They said Bakayoko and his passenger “perfectly, by chance” fit the description of the suspects they were searching for, that is “driving an SUV, one wearing a green top”.

According to police, the check prompted the highest security measures, because the real suspects were wanted in connection to a fight between gangs of Senegalese and north African origin during where shots were fired.

Bakayoko, whose family descends from Ivory Coast, and his friend were let go of as soon as their identities were confirmed.

The Italian unit of Amnesty International also criticised the police action saying the images of Bakayoko being stopped make one think of ethnic profiling. “This is a discriminatory practice which could have had serious consequences for a person who is not famous.”

The Guardian wrote that, Bakayoko who is on loan at AC Milan from Chelsea, was the target of racist chants from Lazio supporters before a match st San Siro stadium in 2019, and again last September during a Lazio-AC Milan game.