The Mayor of Verona caused controversy by telling Mario Balotelli he shouldn’t “provoke” if he wants to avoid racist abuse.
Flavio Tosi, who is a member of the anti-immigration Lega Nord party, made the comments ahead of Saturday’s Serie A opener Hellas Verona-Milan.
There are fears of racist incidents, as the Verona fans have been punished for this behaviour in the past.
“Will I reassure Balotelli about coming to Verona? There are two aspects here,” noted Tosi on Radio Sportiva.
“One is the fans, the other is the club that has always worked hard to improve the behaviour of the fans other than those four idiots. If someone acts like a cretin, he’ll be in the minority.
“However, if Balotelli provoked people a bit less, then it would be even better. There are many black players, but not all of them stoke the ire of the opposition fans. Most have no problems. Balotelli is very good at making himself unlikeable.”
The comments from the Mayor of Verona come after Lazio ultras released a statement explaining their monkey noises at black Juventus players were “not racist.”
Lazio have been forced to close down the Curva Nord for their next home game as punishment for the jeering during the Italian Super Cup.
Although the Biancocelesti ultras insist their behaviour is not racist, they have agreed to stop making the noises “to silence the hypocrites.”