Footballer Balotelli threatens to walk off amid racist chants

The striker was calmed down by teammates and the Italian league match was suspended for four minutes.

    The 29-year-old Balotelli experienced racism at the beginning of his career in Italy, when he rose to prominence with Inter Milan [Daniele Mascolo/Reuters]
    The 29-year-old Balotelli experienced racism at the beginning of his career in Italy, when he rose to prominence with Inter Milan [Daniele Mascolo/Reuters]

    Italian footballer Mario Balotelli kicked the ball into the stands and threatened to quit Brescia's game at Verona after home fans targeted him with racist chants during Sunday's Serie A clash.

    The striker, who is back in the Serie A after terms at major Italian, English and French clubs, was calmed down by teammates and Verona players as the game was suspended for four minutes early in the second half.

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    Announcement on loudspeakers at the Bentegodi stadium then warned fans the game would be abandoned under the league's anti-racism rules if the abuse continued.

    Later, Balotelli, who was born in Italy to Ghanian parents, scored a late consolation goal in his side's 2-1 loss.

    Verona coach Ivan Juric said that nothing special happened against Balotelli, save some hissing and teasing chants with no racial connotation. 

    In September, FIFA President Gianni Infantino urged Italian football authorities to hand out stadium bans for supporters guilty of racism after an incident in a Serie A match between Atalanta and Fiorentina.

    'Why always me?'

    The 29-year-old Balotelli experienced racism at the beginning of his career in Italy, when he rose to prominence with Inter Milan.

    Balotelli's on-the-field achievements have often been overshadowed by his antics on and off the field.

    During his time at Manchester City, where he won the league title, Balotelli was sent off four times, threw a dart at a youth-team player and was involved in an incident that saw fireworks explode in his toilet.

    After scoring against Manchester United, he revealed a T-shirt under his City jersey reading, "Why Always Me?"

    SOURCE: News agencies