27 Jun 2014

Balotelli hits back at 'racist' detractors

11:40 am on 27 June 2014

Controversial Italian football star Mario Balotelli has hit out at what he describes as his "racist" detractors after being blamed for the Azzurri's World Cup exit.

The 23-year-old Balotelli cut a lost and frustrated figure as Italy lost 1-0 to Uruguay to end their tournament.

Coach Cesare Prandelli hauled off an ineffective Balotelli, who scored the winner in the Azzurri's opening match against England, at half-time against Uruguay.

A social media video posting on Instagram by an Italian said: "Mario, do you know what the thing is? You're not Italian, get out."

As a rare Italy international of African origin - his birth parents are Ghanaian - Balotelli stands out in an Italy shirt.

Balotelli replied to the video post and sent a link to his impassioned defence on his own Twitter page.

"I'm Mario Balotelli, I'm 23 and I didn't choose to be Italian," he said.

"I really wanted it because I was born in ITALY and I've always lived in ITALY. This World Cup meant a lot to me and I'm sad, angry and disappointed with myself.

"Proud to have given his all for His country. Or maybe, as you say, I'm not Italian. Africans would never abandon one of their brothers. NEVER.

"In that respect us blacks, as you call us, are light years ahead. SHAME is not that you can miss a goal or run less or more. SHAMEFULNESS ARE THESE THINGS. True Italians! True?"

It is not the first time Balotelli has been targeted by racist Italian supporters.

The AC Milan striker has several times faced racial abuse on at football grounds in Italy, most notably from Juventus fans during his Inter Milan days, before heading to England and Manchester City.

In 2010 in a friendly against Romania in Austria he was abused by Romanian fans while some Italian supporters held up a banner saying: "no to a multi-cultural Italy."