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Italian football chief slams racist abuse of Balotelli

Reuters, Wednesday 21 May 2014
Mario Balotelli
Italy's national soccer team player Mario Balotelli walks on the field during a training session at Coverciano training centre near Florence May 21, 2014.
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Racist abuse directed at Mario Balotelli by a young fan outside Italy's training camp was "unacceptable", Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete said on Wednesday.

The AC Milan striker was subjected to the abuse outside Italy's Coverciano training camp as the squad were put through their paces with manager Cesare Prandelli looking to trim his provisional 30-man list to 23 for the Brazil World Cup.

"This is unacceptable behaviour," Abete told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "This should not happen. The important thing is that this is only a minority and they have no regard for civil coexistence."

Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants but was brought up by an Italian foster family.

He has been a frequent target for racists throughout his career in Italy, with Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma fans repeatedly abusing him with racist chanting during matches.

Observers at the training camp reported that it was one fan who shouted the abuse. A video containing the insults was then published on the Gazzetta website (www.gazzetta.it).

Torino striker Ciro Immobile also spoke out against the abuse at Wednesday's news conference.

"It saddens me. We're in 2014 and to be hearing racist insults from people, whether you're yellow, black or white, is just unacceptable," he said.

"Fortunately, Mario let it pass over him and he got on with his training. But we as players should do more to help stamp this out."

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