Mario Balotelli explains why he “had to react” to racist abuse in Verona. “I am Italian. It’s already happened to my daughter too.”
The Brescia striker kicked the ball into the stands during the game at the Stadio Bentegodi on Sunday and threatened to walk off the field.
“I know that we’re not supposed to give these people attention, but we can’t just not underline the seriousness of what they are doing either,” Balotelli told Le Iene television programme.
“If I don’t react, nothing will happen. You can call me an idiot, I don’t mind that, but not if you call me a n***o. That’s not done by mistake. That’s serious.
“I stopped play because I thought, that’s it, I’d had enough. I say punish those who are guilty and not the whole Curva, because that is the beauty of football. I never accused the whole city of Verona, just those few idiots who were responsible.
“They were only a few, yes, but they were enough for me to hear them from the pitch, so it can’t have been two or three.
“I’ll be honest, I really like the stadium in Verona and their fans, as they have always mocked in an amusing and ironic way. If they want to distract a player, they can do it in a thousand ways, but not that. This is not right. We cannot accept that as mere banter.”
The situation, he notes, is particularly hurtful because he represents not just himself, but whole generations of black Italians.
“My daughter Pia saw this on TV and that made it hurt three times as much. It’s also happened to her before and you cannot insult a child saying words like that. We adults have to set the standard and show how to be civil.
“I am not saying that I am different to the other players who receive the same abuse, the same monkey noises, but the problem is that I am Italian and I want to get back into the Nazionale.
“I can take all kinds of insults, but ones based on racism are not acceptable, have never been acceptable and never will be acceptable. Those who did it, and I repeat they are only a few, are complete idiots.”
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