Mario Balotelli has expressed his gratitude for the support he received in the wake of racist abuse which saw him set to walk off at Verona - and claims those responsible should be ashamed.
The forward picked up the ball and kicked it into the stands before making to leave the pitch in the 54th minute of the Serie A match at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi. Footage later appeared which showed Balotelli was reacting to racist abuse, with monkey chants clearly audible.
Balotelli was convinced to stay on by team-mates, Verona players and officials before referee Maurizio Mariani initiated the anti-racism protocol. The game was temporarily suspended while a message was read out by the stadium announcer warning that the match would be abandoned if racist abuse was to occur. It was the second time such a protocol has been followed in Serie A this weekend after the game between Roma and Napoli was briefly halted when territorial chants were directed at the Napoli supporters.
After the 2-1 defeat, Verona’s head coach, Ivan Juric, said there was no racist element to any abuse directed towards Balotelli - a stance which was also taken by the club’s president Maurizio Setti. Later, Balotelli posted an update on Instagram, including both a video of the on-pitch incident and footage taken from the stands.
Balotelli included a video of the Verona fans making the chants added in his Instagram ‘stories’. He wrote: “The ’people’ of this curva who made the monkey chants. Shame on you, shame on you, shame on you. In front of your children, wives, relatives, parents, friends and acquaintances ... shame.”
Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola was quick to offer full support to the player, as was Brescia manager Eugenio Corini.
Brescia said the incidents had also been heard by players on the pitch from both sides and expected the Italian Football Federation to open an investigation. “This afternoon it happened to one of our players, but it could have happened to anyone else, of any team and the sentence should be as equally firm and determined,” the club statement added. “Football is for everyone and everyone deserves the same respect.”
Source: The Guardian