(Bloomberg) -- An Italian volleyball star is considering quitting the national squad over racist attacks after helping her team take third place in the world championships. 

“This is my last game with the national team,” Paola Egonu, a 23-year-old born in Italy of Nigerian descent, was heard telling her manager in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday. She spoke after the team’s 3-0 victory over the US to secure the bronze medal. “You can’t understand. They asked me why I am Italian.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi later called Egonu, a two-time Olympian, on Sunday to express his support. 

Egonu later clarified in TV interviews that she wants to take a “pause,” and that she’ll consider whether to rejoin the national team at a later stage. 

The athlete, who now plays for a top team in Istanbul, has often been a lightning rod for public frustration when Italy’s team lost a key game, as was the case earlier this week in the world cup semifinal.

“It makes me laugh reading people who ask why I am Italian,” Egonu said in an interview with Sky Sport. “I ask myself why I represent such people.”

Italy’s sports is rife with racism, with Black players routinely subjected to booing and chants from fans of rival teams. Beyond sports, the only person of color to have been appointed a government minister, Cecile Kyenge, was regularly targeted with racial slurs while she served as minister for integration almost a decade ago. 

The attacks against Egonu signal “a stereotyped, racist mindset,” Italy’s anti-racial-discrimination office said in a tweet. “It’s called racism, they are called racists,” outgoing Equal Opportunities Minister Elena Bonetti said after Egonu’s comments.  

Egonu was already the subject of attacks after she announced she was in a same-sex relationship in 2018. 

The right-wing coalition that won last month’s Italian election chose as speaker of the lower house an ultra-conservative known for hard-line positions on LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage, as well as for his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Read more: Same-Sex Parents in Italy Ask What’s Next After Meloni’s Win  

After their phone call, Draghi said Egonu was “a pride of Italian sport” and that she’ll have “future opportunities to other trophies wearing the national team jersey,” he said on Twitter. 

(Updates with Draghi phone call from third paragraph.)

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