Mario Balotelli subjected to racist chants at Italy World Cup training
A day after U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore and MLS star Thierry Henry joined HBO's Real Sports to talk about racism in soccer, another unfortunate incident has taken place.
Italy and AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli was subjected to racist chants from fans at Italy's World Cup training camp in Florence, the AP reported Wednesday morning, with police having to intervene. As the AP reports:
Kids outside the Coverciano complex were responsible for the chants, and Balotelli appeared visibly disturbed.
The training session was open to media, and Balotelli could be heard saying as he ran by reporters, ''Only in Rome and Florence are they that stupid.''
While most of the fans cheered for Balotelli, police approached the area where the chants came from and they quickly ended. Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants and brought up by an Italian foster family. He has faced racist chants throughout his professional career.
''It's unbelievable that in 2014 we still have this form of racism,'' Balotelli's fellow forward, Ciro Immobile, said. ''It's not great for the nation. We represent Italy.''
The last time Italy played on a grand stage, in Euro 2012, Balotelli was subjected to racism at matches vs. Spain and Croatia in Poland, as fans mocked him with monkey noises. Both nations' FAs were fined as a result. Even though FIFA has pledged a no-tolerance policy for fan racism at the World Cup this summer, racism in soccer remains prevalent in Brazil, as SI.com's James Young documented a few weeks ago.