Berlusconi's brother in hot water over Balotelli remark
Silvio Berlusconi's brother has been accused of gross racial insensitivity over a remark about Mario Balotelli just days after the striker's return home from Britain.
Speaking at an event held by his brother's centre-right Freedom People party (PDL), Paolo Berlusconi sparked laughter from his audience when he referred to AC Milan's latest signing as a negretto - a word that literally means "little nigger" or "little negro", but is better translated as "little black boy".
"And now let's go and watch the little black boy of the family, the hot head," said Paolo Berlusconi who, as well as being a newspaper owner, is vice-president of AC Milan, the football club owned by his elder brother.
"All the young ladies are invited as well - you can even have a chance to meet the president," he added.
The remark, made on Sunday night before Balotelli's debut match against Udinese, went largely unnoticed in Italy until yesterday, when a video of it went viral and attracted many angry comments.
Piara Powar, executive director of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, said the comments were "an outrage" that should not be laughed off.
The controversy comes just weeks after the elder Berlusconi backed his players after they walked off the pitch in protest against racist jeers directed at midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, saying the team would do the same again if any player suffered such jibes.