Mario Balotelli kicked the ball into the crowd and threatened to walk off the field after receiving alleged racist abuse in a Serie A match on Sunday.
Scenes in Italy. Mario Balotelli, presumably in response to racist abuse from fans, picks up ball and kicks it into stands.
Here’s the aftermath.
We – football, society – need teammates/opponents to stop pleading with victims to not walk off, start walking off with them instead pic.twitter.com/wQ6rfs7j0K
— Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell) November 3, 2019
The Brescia striker was seen enraged by what was said to him by a section of Hellas Verona fans. Nine minutes into the second half, Balotelli suddenly picked up the ball and volleyed it into the crowd.
He then walked off the field behind the goal as play was stopped for around five minutes. Balotelli was convinced by players from both sides to stay on.
Referee Maurizio Mariani stopped the game and a message was read out over the stadium loudspeaker threatening to suspend the match for a longer period if the chants continued.
In a fitting finale, Balotelli returned to the pitch and scored the winning goal five minutes from the end of the match as Brescia won 2-1.
Astonishing: 21 minutes after Racist Abuse from opposing Verona fans caused Mario Balotelli to walk off field in protest, he returns, scores this exclamation point of a goal. In truth, game better off if all 22 players walked off at first sign of Racism pic.twitter.com/Wjf6WB0Ubc
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) November 3, 2019
Speaking after the match, the Hellas Verona coach said that there had not been any racist abuse by the fans. He said that fans had directed jeers towards Balotelli, but they were not racist in nature.
This is the second time this weekend that a Serie A match has been interrupted because of offensive chants. AS Roma’s match against Napoli on Saturday was briefly halted because of discriminatory chants from the home supporters. Balotelli is one of the very few black players to have turned out for the Italian national team.
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