Mario Balotelli is adamant ‘I’d have had less problems if I was white’ after revealing the shocking extent of the racist abuse he has suffered.
Gazzetta dello Sport published an excerpt of Alessandro Alciato’s book Demoni – or ‘demons’ – where the Italy striker revealed how being black affected his school life and relationship with other children, as well as fans of rival clubs once he became professional.
“Of course, if I was white then I’d have had less problems,” explained the striker, who was also targeted by a discriminatory banner during his Azzurri comeback against Saudi Arabia on Monday.
“I receive so many letters from kids, who consider me an example for never backed down to racism.
“It was disgraceful, having doors slammed in your face for 18 years,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The doors opened wide after I received [Italian] citizenship, but I was treated the same as before.
“Some snacks had disappeared from desks at school once. [The teachers] immediately thought it was me without investigating.
“However, there’s one incident that I’ll never forget: the tears stopped coming down after that...
“I’d done all my homework. I knew that my mum would let me out to play football. ‘Hi guys, shall we play?’ ‘No Mario, you can’t.’ ‘But I did my homework…’ ‘No Mario, you’re black.
“I was black, therefore I was different in their eyes. I thought they didn’t want me because I was exuberant even back then, but as the years passed, I unfortunately discovered the truth.
“In 2009, I experienced the transition to adulthood in this respect. During a Juventus-Inter game, they called me ‘monkey’, ‘negro’, ‘go back to Africa’ and booed me.
“The second incident happened in June, outside a bar in Rome with my Under-21 teammates.
“While we were chatting, a motorbike emerged from afar and one of the two people riding on it shouted, ‘Negro! Negro Negro!’
“Then they approached me, slowed down and threw a bunch of bananas at me, as if I were a monkey.
“They were also wrong with their aim, hitting the barmaid instead of me.”