Verona council wants Mario Balotelli to face legal action over racism claims
A group of local Verona councillors want the city government to take action against Mario Balotelli after he complained about racist insults from the crowd during a match at the Bentegodi stadium on Sunday.
The Brescia striker kicked the ball into the crowd and threatened to walk off the pitch early in the second half because he said some fans were making monkey noises. Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal handed Verona a one match partial stadium ban on Tuesday for racial abuse.
Balotelli, who was born in Sicily to Ghanaian parents and given up for adoption when he was three, has faced racist abuse throughout his career in Italy. He was backed by Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and AS Roma, among others, for his reaction on the weekend.
But the club and city’s mayor Federico Sboarina, who said he was at the game, denied the racist insults took place.
On Tuesday, the Gazzetta dello Sport published a motion sent to the Verona council by four councillors proposing that “the mayor and the legal offices of the municipality should take legal action against the footballer and all those who attack Verona by unjustly defaming it.”
The motion added: “It is no longer fair that Verona is put in the dock when, as in this case, nothing happened.”
Meanwhile, Verona banned ultras leader Luca Castellini for 11 years after he claimed that Balotelli will “never be completely Italian.”
Verona said that his comments were against the “ethical principles and values of our club.”
Italian authorities have long been criticised by anti-racism campaigners for not doing enough to tackle the problem, and last month Cagliari escaped sanctions after Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku allegedly suffered racist abuse from their fans.
The insults against Lukaku were judged by the tribunal to be too limited in terms of “real perception” for it to take action.