AC Milan announced Tuesday it will not appeal the three-game ban forward Mario Balotelli received Monday after insulting a referee in a loss to Napoli on Sept. 22.
According to an Associated Press report, the Serie A club will still move forward with its objection to the closure of its Curva Sud, but it reversed its initial decision to appeal Balotelli's ban after club executives received official documents stating the reasons for his suspension. The section of the stadium will be closed for a game due to racist chants from the crowd.
Milan's coach, Massimiliano Allegri, said he believes the 23-year-old Balotelli is a "potential champion" but needs to change some of his ways:
"Mario is no longer a child, he is 23 years old and he has to change. He is a potential champion, but he has to stop certain attitudes towards referees. I believe Mario has enough good sense and capacity to understand that it's an important year and that he is in a situation in which he cannot make a mistake. Until now Mario has always behaved well. Sunday he made a mistake, I hope that will serve as a lesson to him. I believe I can give him a hand, but he needs to help himself too."
Balotelli, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in August, missed a penalty and scored in the 2-1 loss to Napoli last Sunday. His protests and insults toward the referee prompted a red card, which automatically gave him a one-match ban, and then the following day he received an additional two matches for his behavior. He is expected to miss Milan's games against Bologna, Sampdoria and Juventus.
As the report points out, Balotelli's eligibility for the World Cup qualifiers against Denmark on Oct. 11 and Armenia on Oct. 15 may now be in jeopardy because Italy's coach, Cesare Prandelli, has been known to sometimes drop players who breach his strict code of behavior. ABNOS: Geoff Cameron scores first goal for Stoke City at Arsenal