Inter’s Mario Balotelli tired of racial abuse
Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli was yesterday fined €7,000 for provoking Cheivo fans in Wednesday’s Serie A game.
Jose Mourinho’s side travelled to Verona and cantered to a 1-0 away win, but the game was overshadowed by racial undertones.
Balotelli clapped ironically as he was substituted with two minutes remaining. This action was directed at the home supporters and was thus judged to be an action of provocation by the 19-year-old.
The Lega Calcio also hit the Milan club with a fine of €15,000 after fans of the Nerazzuri booed and chanted racial slurs at Luciano of Chievo throughout Wednesday’s game.
Bizarrely however, fans of the Verona outfit were not punished for directing their own dose of abuse at Balotelli.
In an open letter on his website, the under-21 international defended his actions by saying they were triggered by the abuse he was subjected to throughout the game.
In the past, Balotelli has been subjected to racial slurs with alarming regularity. In the recent ‘Derby d’Italia’, Juventus fans brandished controversial banners with slogans directed at the youngster.
Balotelli has not endeared himself to Italian football fans with some ill advised theatrics on and off the pitch. Indeed his over reaction to a flailing elbow by Felipe Melo in the match against Juventus incurred the wrath of the home supporters.
Yet there is no excuse for racism in any walk of life. In the same letter, the striker was quick to point out his disgust at his own fans for their abuse directed at Luciano.
“I am tired of always hearing racist chants when I behave on the pitch. It doesn’t happen just at Verona. I was ashamed to hear my own fans booing Chievo’s Luciano.”
The severity of the fine issued to Inter Milan must be questioned and it seems peculiar Chievo escaped punishment for an almost identical crime.
Evidently, Italian football has lengthy journey to travel before we see racism disappear from its pitches.