Verona President Maurizio Setti is “optimistic” his fans won’t aim racist abuse at Mario Balotelli after his mocking tweet.
There are fears of racist abuse from the stands, as Hellas Verona ultras have been repeatedly involved in these incidents and this week Mayor of Verona Flavio Tosi accused Balotelli of “provoking” these insults.
SuperMario responded in his own way with a tweet aimed at the ultras: “People of Verona, I present to you a man from Brescia!”
There are now reports the Verona ultras will adopt a different approach to circumnavigate the punishment of racist abuse.
They could substitute the ‘monkey noises’ with different random sounds, such as ‘pe-pe-pe’ or ‘hee-hee-hee’ every time he touches the ball.
It would follow on from Lazio ultras releasing a statement to insist those noises were not racist abuse, but simply aimed at irritating their opponents.
“I am hopeful and optimistic,” said Verona President Setti in the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“This is the opportunity to prove to everyone that our fans have changed. I noticed huge improvements. We signed Donsah, a player from Ghana, and he was accepted with no problems in the city or the stadium.
“When we first took over the club, we had to pay €150,000 in fines every season. Now we’re down to €20,000. The people of Verona are not racist. There are those who make those noises to get attention, as they know they’ll get on TV and in the papers. Then others go along with their crowd. It’s only a few dozen people.
“Besides, there should also be punishment when we play an away match and the crowd chants ‘you have to die’ at our Coach for the entire 90 minutes.
“Do I agree with Tosi? No. In my view Balotelli is a 23-year-old and, like everyone at that age, if you press certain buttons he will react. I’d advise him to play his game as best he can and not listen to anything else. I’d love to have him play for Verona.”