Former international fired after he questioned the intelligence of black players.

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The former Italy winger Stefano Eranio has defended himself after being sacked by a Swiss television station after he made racist remarks in a live broadcast.

Eranio, who won 20 caps and also played for Milan and Derby County, was sacked by the RSI after criticising Roma defender Antonio Rüdiger during the 4-4 draw in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

“Black players in the defensive line often make these mistakes because they’re not concentrated,” said Eranio. “They are powerful physically, but when it is time to think … they often make this type of error.”

In an interview with the Italian website Tuttomercatoweb, Eranio attempted to clarify his comments but merely compounded the problem.

“It’s disappointing that people have created all this controversy. I didn’t offend anyone and I don’t want people to make out as if I’m racist. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am not,” he said.

“It irritates me to be thrown to the wolves like this. The truth is I gave an incorrect opinion, in the sense that if I’d had to time to explain I would’ve said that I meant black players have never had a school of football in tactical terms similar to ours.

“Rüdiger read the situation badly because black players are not accustomed to paying attention to certain details. If they were as detail-oriented as us, then they’d dominate the spot, because they have everything in terms of strength and technique.

“It was a misunderstanding, I don’t want to be made to appear racist. If they didn’t like my comment, they could’ve just told me and interrupted our collaboration. Why create all this controversy?”