French league responds after Mario Balotelli alleges racial abuse
PARIS (AP) — The French league will open an investigation after Nice striker Mario Balotelli spoke out against Bastia fans he said made monkey noises during a match on Friday night.
In a brief statement Saturday afternoon, the French League said it "deplored all of the incidents" that happened on Friday. Before the match, Nice's team bus had been pelted by stones as it arrived at the stadium.
The LFP's disciplinary committee will start looking into the matters when it convenes on Thursday and once it has received further information from officials and both clubs.
Balotelli wrote a message on his Instagram and Twitter pages earlier on Saturday, describing the abuse he heard during the 1-1 draw at the 20,000-capacity Armand Cesari stadium in Corsica and complaining that the French league had not acted swiftly enough.
"Is it normal that Bastia supporters make monkey noise (and) 'uh' 'uh' for the whole game and no one of the 'commissions discipline' say nothing?" Balotelli wrote, referencing the French league's disciplinary committee. "So is racism legal in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport. Those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible!"
Balotelli, 26, the son of Ghanaian immigrants to Italy, concluded his post by writing in French that what happened was "une vrai honte," or a total disgrace.
Nice's official Twitter account shared Balotelli's message. On its website, the French Riviera club threw its support behind Balotelli.
"Nice, which already had stones thrown at its bus before the game, is outraged by what happened to its players on Friday night, and in particular to Mario Balotelli," a statement read.
Bastia did not immediately respond to an email from the AP seeking a response to Balotelli's claim.
Balotelli joined from Liverpool on a free transfer in August and has scored eight league goals in 10 games to help Nice challenge for the title.
He did not say in his message whether or not he had informed referee Clement Turpin, who had the authority to stop the game, of the crowd's actions. Commentators from broadcaster Canal Plus, which covered the game, made no mention of any racist abuse during the match.
In May 2013, when playing for Italian side AC Milan, Balotelli was subject to racist abuse from visiting Roma fans, causing the Serie A game to be briefly halted by the referee during the second half after warnings to stop the abuse were made throughout the stadium. Massimiliano Allegri, Milan's coach at the time, made stinging comments against those who had racially abused Balotelli.
Bastia was docked two points by the LFP in the 2007-08 season after its fans racially abused Burkina Faso forward Boubacar Kebe by holding up a banner during a second-division home game against Libourne. The kickoff was delayed by a few minutes until the banner aimed at Kebe was removed.