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Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Racists target Man City striker Balotelli in Italy game

Italy's Mario Balotelli and Romania's Gabriel Tamas
Balotelli has also been targeted by Juventus supporters in the past

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has been subjected to racist abuse during Italy's 1-1 draw with Romania.

The Manchester City striker was repeatedly booed by a group of about 100 extreme right-wing Italian fans.

A banner bearing the message - "No to a multi-ethnic national team" - was confiscated in Klagenfurt's HypoArena stadium where the match was played.

"If I have to hear those chants every time, you can't go forward like that," Balotelli told Mediaset in Italy.

"I leave others to do the judgement. I am happy to be in the national team."

Only 3,000 fans watched the game in Austria because of commercial reasons.

However, Balotelli believes it is not fair that the majority of the supporters should suffer because of the behaviour of a minority.

"It wouldn't be right to stop a game because a few fans that turn up to the stadium behave like that," he said.

"We need to change these people but it's not me that has to do it.

"Where I live, the people don't reason like these people.

"A multi-ethnic Italy already exists and we can do better."

Before his move to City from Inter Milan during the summer the Sicily-born Balotelli was subjected to racist abuse by Juventus supporters, who hung banners in their stadium last year which read: "A negro cannot be Italian".

At the time of his move to Eastlands, Balotelli's older sister Cristina told BBC Sport: "Mario is very proud to be black and Italian. He wants to represent Italy. He was born in Italy. He's never been to Africa, not yet. His country is Italy.

"It will be easier [in England]. In your football stadiums, you don't have these kinds of episodes. Mario is always painted as a bad boy - but there is a background of racism in Italian society. He wasn't forgiven for things that you would forgive other people for."

Balotelli carried the only real threat in the first-half for Italy and managed two efforts on goal before he was replaced by Fabio Quagliarella on 59 minutes.

Ciprian Marica gave Romania a deserved 34th-minute lead when he rifled home a shot only to then deflect in Quagliarella's header eight minutes from time.

"I feel disappointment and anger," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, referring to the racist abuse directed at Balotelli.

"We always hear these chants and something has to be done about it. We feel helpless. He has the support of everyone."

City forward Balotelli is currently serving a three-match suspension after being sent off in Manchester City's win at West Brom on 7 November.

He is ineligible to play against Fulham on Sunday, but will be available to play for City against Stoke on 27 November.



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see also
FA rejects Balotelli card appeal
09 Nov 10 |  Man City
Mancini defends Balotelli's reputation
17 Aug 10 |  Man City
Will Balotelli gamble reap rewards?
13 Aug 10 |  Man City
Man City complete Balotelli deal
13 Aug 10 |  Man City
Balotelli wanted to stay in Italy
13 Aug 10 |  Man City


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