MILAN (Reuters) - Italian forward Mario Balotelli was allegedly subject to more racist abuse — something he has suffered throughout his career — during Brescia’s 2-1 defeat by Verona in Serie A on Sunday.
The 29-year-old hoofed the ball into the crowd after hearing monkey noises from a group of fans and threatened to walk off but was dissuaded by his team mates and opponents.
There has been widespread reaction to the incident, the latest to hit Serie A which has been criticised for not doing enough to combat racism. Here is some of the reaction from the past two days.
“One worker at Ilva (the struggling Italian steelmaker) is worth more than 10 Balotellis, we don’t need phenomena. With 20,000 jobs at risk, Balotelli is the least of my worries.” - Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right League.
“As a club, AS Roma stands with Mario Balotelli, who was racially abused on Sunday. Whether it’s 20 people or 2,000, racist abuse is never acceptable.” Serie A club AS Roma.
“We must punish these ignorant people. It is absurd that, in 2019, we are still faced with things like this.” Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte.
“We are irreverent supporters. We make fun of bald players, the one with long hair, the southern player and the player of colour but not with political or racist instincts... Balotelli’s Italian because he has Italian citizenship, but he can never be completely Italian.” Luca Castellin, Verona ultras leader. Verona later banned him from attending their games until 2030.
“We are working with the police to find the individuals responsible. The aim is to make sure these people cannot enter an Italian stadium.” Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo.
“He did the right thing. There have been a couple of episodes where the match has been interrupted so we are on the right path.” Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“It seems we have already been condemned. What is happening to the city of Verona is unacceptable... I was at the stadium when Balotelli hoofed the ball into the crowd and we were all stunned... Nobody I spoke to said they heard any (racist) chanting.” Federico Sboarina, the mayor of Verona.
“I would ask Verona to condemn what has happened and to take the necessary measures. I also ask the mayor of Verona, who denied that there were racist chants and blamed Balotelli for starting a media campaign against the city, to review the videos and distance himself from those chants to protect the community he represents.” Vincenzo Spadafora, Italy’s Minister for Youth and Sports.
“Nothing has changed in the last six years but we won’t let up: we will fight together against racism.” Fiorentina forward Kevin-Prince Boateng, who in 2013 walked off the pitch while playing a friendly match for AC Milan because of racist insults from the crowd.
Compiled by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge