AC Milan player Tiémoué Bakayoko speaks out after police held him at gunpoint | Italy

AC Milan footballer Tiémoué Bakayoko has spoken out against Italian police who held him at gunpoint after mistaking him for someone else.

The French midfielder and a male passenger were stopped as they drove in the Porta Garibaldi area of Milan on 3 July as police searched for suspects involved in an alleged shootout the night before.

Footage of the incident, in which Bakayoko is seen being searched by police before an officer realises he’s a Milan footballer, emerged online on Monday, prompting accusations of racism.

Milan police apologised for the error, but in a video posted on social media on Thursday, Bakayoko, 27, 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 defended the officers’ actions, saying racism allegations were “out of place”. They said Bakayoko and his friend “perfectly, by chance” matched the description – that is “driving an SUV, one wearing a green top” – of the two suspects they were searching for. The check needed the “the highest security measures”, police said, because the real suspects were wanted in connection to a fight between gangs of Senegalese and north African origin during which gun shots were fired.

Bakayoko, whose family origins are in Ivory Coast, and his friend were let go as soon as their identities were established.

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

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

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