Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Soccer: Balotelli calls for change amid racism storm

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, May 20 - Mario Balotelli called for change as
a storm over racism in Serie A soccer continued on Monday, when
AS Roma were hit with a partial stadium closure for chants
targeting the AC Milan and Italy forward.
The 22-year-old said that it was inhuman for the
authorities to expect him to stay on the soccer field if he is
the victim of racist abuse from the stands.
His appeal came the day after he reportedly had to be held
back after being targeted by monkey chants from Fiorentina fans
on the way back from his side's 2-1 win at Siena.
Balotelli scored a controversial late penalty to help Milan
to a win that enabled them to finish third and qualify for the
Champions League preliminaries at Fiorentina's expense.
A video released on the Internet shows Milan players coming
under a hail of abuse when they arrived at Florence's Campo di
Marte railway station to take a train home after their match at
the nearby Tuscan city of Siena. As well as monkey chants,
Fiorentina fans called Balotelli, who has Ghanaian roots, a
"piece of s**t".
Balotelli said last week that he would walk off in protest
next time after being one of the black Milan players to have
racist boos directed at them from AS Roma fans during a 0-0 draw
at the San Siro.
It was the latest in a long series of incidents of racist
abuse that the 22-year-old, who has Ghanaian roots, has been hit
with in recent years.
But Marcello Nicchi, the head of the Italian Referees'
Association (AIA), warned the striker that he would effectively
be sending himself off if he carried through the threat, as he
would leave his side in 10.
"This rule about racist buu need to be changed cos is no
human that if i leave the picth my team gonna rest in 10 pls!,"
Balotelli said via his Twitter account, @FinallyMario.
"Change it im not agree".
Roma will have to play a future home match with part of the
Stadio Olimpico closed to the public as punishment for racist
chants against Balotelli in Sunday's 2-1 win over Napoli, the
last match of the Serie A season.
Serie A's sporting judge said the Olimpico's 'Curva Sud'
end stand, where Roma's hardcore ultra fans watch home matches,
will be shut because of "expressions of racial discrimination"
directed at the Italy and AC Milan forward.
The punishment is severe as Roma fans were guilty of a
number of previous incidents of racist abuse, including those
at the San Siro.
Roma were also fined 50,000 euros, as were Inter Milan for
racist chants by their fans in Sunday's 5-2 defeat to Udinese.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, meanwhile, said that
suggestions Balotelli in some way brought racism abuse on
himself were "ridiculous".
Prandelli was responding to comments by former Roma coach
Zdedek Zeman, who last week suggested that if Balotelli faces
jeers, it is due to his attitude, and not his skin colour. "It's
a serious problem, it's like saying that if many women suffer
violence, it is because they look for it," said Prandelli.
"This is not just a problem of AC Milan football, or
Italian (football), it is a problem for everyone". The issue of
racism in soccer has been heating up amid continued fan attacks
and angry responses from players.
Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, however, stressed that
that not all taunts directed at black players were of a racist
nature.
"It's necessary to be lucid to understand when we are
talking about racism, when it is about sport or a defeat, and
when there are other reasons," Congo-born Kyenge, who has been
hit by racist abuse after becoming Italy's first black minister
last month, said at the Turin book fair.
Some Roma fans denied allegations they made monkey chants
during the match against Milan, saying they simply booed
Balotelli.

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