ROME, Nov 6 — Mario Balotelli said yesterday his threat to leave the pitch during the weekend’s Serie A defeat to Hellas Verona came after being racially abused by ‘a handful of idiots’.
“I didn’t accuse Hellas Verona, I didn’t accuse that section of the Hellas Verona stadium. I accused the handful of idiots who did what I heard. I accused those morons and that’s all,” Balotelli, 29, told Italian television programme Le Iene.
“If you want to disturb a player, there are thousands of other ways to do it. But not like that. It’s not right like that.”
Verona were given a one-match partial stadium closure yesterday for the monkey chants some of their fans directed at Brescia striker Balotelli in the fixture between the two clubs on Sunday.
The match was suspended for a few minutes around the hour mark as the 36-time Italy international tried to force himself from the pitch before a message was read out on the stadium loudspeaker threatening both teams would leave the field if there was a repeat of any abuse.
“This handful, and I say it again because the idiots aren’t numerous but they exist, those who did that are stupid. Racist behaviour is not acceptable, it never has been, and never will be,” Balotelli added.
Verona coach Ivan Juric insisted he heard “no racists chants, nothing at all,” adding that “to say otherwise is a lie”. — AFP