Mario Balotelli has hit back at his detractors by posting an emotional message on social media.
The Italy forward was substituted at half time of his team’s 1-0 defeat to Uruguay and has been the subject of fierce criticism following the Azzurri’s World Cup elimination.
Responding to those pointing the finger of blame in his direction, the 23-year-old implied that racism is at the heart of the vitriol being aimed his way and told critics to find another scapegoat.
“I am Mario Balotelli, I’m 23 years old and I did not choose to be Italian.” Balotelli wrote on Instagram. “I wanted it strongly because I was born in Italy and I’ve always lived in Italy.
“I was hoping for a lot from this World Cup and I am sad, angry and disappointed with myself.
“Yes, maybe I could have scored a goal against Costa Rica, you’re right, but then what? What is the problem after that?
“Maybe that’s what you all wanted to say? Don’t blame it all on me this time because Mario Balotelli have given everything for the national team and has done nothing wrong on a personal level.
“So go and look for another excuse because Mario Balotelli has his conscience in place and is ready to move forward stronger than before, with his head high.
“He is proud to have given everything for his country. Or maybe, as you say, I am not Italian. The Africans would never heap everything on one of their ‘brothers.’ Never.
“In this sense us blacks, as you call us, are light-years ahead.
“Shame is not that you can miss a goal or run more or less. Shame is those things [I have mentioned].”