Wednesday June 6 2012
Platini: 'Balotelli can't walk off'

UEFA President Michel Platini sniped at Cesare Prandelli for threatening to pull Italy out of Euro 2012 and revealed Mario Balotelli “will be punished” if he walks off due to racist abuse.

Last week Prandelli responded to criticism over the betting scandal by noting “if it helps” then the Azzurri would be willing to pull out of the tournament.

“As I have already said, anyone involved in match-fixing should never play football again. We are watching a scandal unfold and the fault lies with the players,” said Platini.

“By saying Italy could stay home, Prandelli made a big mistake. In any case, the decision would be down to the Federation and not him.”

The new UEFA directives have urged referees to stop games if they hear racist abuse from the stands, but Platini admits it is still down to the officials.

“We are talking about a phenomenon that exists not only in football, but in all of society. Our job is to stop it and to do so we have created apposite measures.

“Balotelli said he’d walk off the field if he was insulted? It’s not up to him to decide, but rather the referee. The officials must stick to the rules, which include the option to suspend the match. If Balotelli leaves the pitch without permission then he will be punished with a yellow card.”

There have also been protests around staging Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, primarily due to the latter’s human rights record.

“When we chose Ukraine and Poland to organise this tournament, we defined it as a great adventure for Eastern Europe.

“I respect those, such as the Germans, who are raising problems and asking to boycott the tournament, but I tell them they could’ve just not voted for Ukraine at the time. I am not in politics, as my job is to organise wonderful football tournaments.”

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