The Moroccan defender heard an insult referring to his nationality while giving an interview on Italian public television. The network has apologized, but Benatia’s club, Juventus, have demanded an explanation.
Mehdi Benatia was being interviewed after his team's 1-1 draw with local rivals Torino, when he became visibly annoyed and said he had heard words on his earpiece that amounted to a racial slur. Benatia then asked: "Who is talking in the background?"
The presenter of the program then broke off the interview and apologized for what she described as "technical problems." The insulting words were not audible to television viewers.
Benatia's club later released a statement expressing concern about the incident and in a statement issued via his Twitter account, the French-born defender said that he was proud of his Moroccan heritage.
It is thought that the insulting words were uttered by a technician, who had failed to turn off his microphone, but Italy's public broadcaster, RAI, has denied that a member of its staff was involved.
"Rai has put into motion all attempts to identify who was responsible for what happened and at the moment technical analysis excludes that the unacceptable phrases were uttered by an employee of our company," its statement said.
Second incident in a matter of days
This is the second racist incident to hit Italian football within the space of a week, after Pescara's Sulley Muntari walked off the pitch in protest after a referee failed to take action when racist chants were heard from some of the spectators during his team's match at Cagliari.
The official then booked Muntari for dissent, and the Ghanaian was later sent off for his decision to leave the pitch.
The Italian FA has since overturned Muntari's one-match ban.