‘If I don’t react, nothing will happen’: Mario Balotelli explains why he had to act after suffering racist abuse at Verona and reveals his daughter was watching on TV
Mario Balotelli has explained why he kicked a ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the field after suffering racist abuse in Brescia’s clash with Verona on Sunday.
The Italian striker admits he felt he ‘had to react’ and reveals it hurt ‘three times as much’ because his young daughter was watching on TV.
‘I know that we’re not supposed to give these people attention, but we can’t just not underline the seriousness of what they are doing either,’ Balotelli told Le Iene television programme.
Mario Balotelli has explained why he felt compelled to walk off the field at Verona on Sunday
‘If I don’t react, nothing will happen. You can call me an idiot, I don’t mind that, but not if you call me a n***o. That’s not done by mistake. That’s serious.
‘I stopped play because I thought, that’s it, I’d had enough. I say punish those who are guilty and not the whole Curva, because that is the beauty of football. I never accused the whole city of Verona, just those few idiots who were responsible.
‘They were only a few, yes, but they were enough for me to hear them from the pitch, so it can’t have been two or three.
On Tuesday Verona were handed a partial stadium closure while they banned their ultras leader for 10 years after he insisted that Balotelli could never be ‘100 per cent Italian’.
Balotelli is consoled by team-mates after being the target of racist abuse in Verona
Balotelli, who is still hoping to earn a recall to the Italian national team, says the incident hurt all the more because he knew who was watching at home.
‘My daughter Pia saw this on TV and that made it hurt three times as much. It’s also happened to her before and you cannot insult a child saying words like that. We adults have to set the standard and show how to be civil.
‘I am not saying that I am different to the other players who receive the same abuse, the same monkey noises, but the problem is that I am Italian and I want to get back into the Nazionale.
‘I can take all kinds of insults, but ones based on racism are not acceptable, have never been acceptable and never will be acceptable. Those who did it, and I repeat they are only a few, are complete idiots.’