Mario Balotelli endures racist abuse at Italy’s training camp

Foul-mouthed tirade against Italian striker fails to trigger desired response

Italy’s target man Mario Balotelli during a training session in Coverciano, Florence, Italy, yesterday. Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters.

Italy’s target man Mario Balotelli during a training session in Coverciano, Florence, Italy, yesterday. Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters.

 

Italy’s football chief Giancarlo Abete has condemned the racist chants directed at Mario Balotelli during the Azzurri’s training session yesterday.

The AC Milan forward was on the receiving end of racist abuse from a group of young men outside Italy’s training headquarters in Coverciano, Florence.

Local police had to intervene to allow Balotelli and the players to continue to train.

“This is unacceptable behaviour,” said Abete to Gazzetta dello Sport. “This should not happen. “The important thing is that this is only a minority and they have no regard for civil coexistence.”

It is not the first time Balotelli has been the victim of racism.

In 2013, he was racially abused by a section of Roma fans during a Serie A game against them.

Italy team-mate Ciro Immobile also expressed his sadness at the incident and praised the way Balotelli handled himself.

Calm and collected “In 2014 we shouldn’t have to deal with racism,” he said

“We have to improve as a nation. Fortunately, Mario was very calm.”

The Milan forward, who has been targeted by fans throughout his career, was training with the rest of the squad as some fans shouted “black piece of s**t” at him.

Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants but was brought up by an Italian foster family. He has been a frequent target for racists throughout his career in Italy, with Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma fans abusing him during matches. Observers at the training camp reported that it was one fan who shouted the abuse. A video containing the insults was then published on the Gazzetta website (gazzetta.it).

The 23-year-old, who played for Manchester City between 2010 and 2013, reportedly told his team-mates later: “This only happens in Rome and Florence.”

The Italy players met up this week to start their preparations for the tournament and face Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Craven Cottage on Saturday May 31st.

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