The problem of Mario Balotelli? "It's black," ironically the president of Brescia

Mario Balotelli in Verona, November 3, 2019, when he had been the victim of racist invective from opposing supporters. Simone Venezia / AP

It's a joke that may be amusing to some in the turns of Italian stadiums, less Mario Balotelli, recurrent victim of racist insults in his country. Asked on Monday, November 25 by journalists about the reasons for the "Balotelli problem", Massimo Cellino, president of the Brescia club, answered in these terms, with a smile:

"It's black. What do you want me to tell you … He works to clear himself (the skin) but he has trouble. "

Massimo Cellino, a Sardinian businessman who made his fortune in agricultural trading, a regular client of Italian courts (convicted for accounting fraud, tax evasion), is an Italian football personality. He led the Cagliari club for twenty-two years, making himself known by his propensity to fire his coaches, before leaving bad memories in the Leeds club, which he owned from 2014 to 2017, then to buy Brescia, two years ago.

Cellino said this sentence to the press on the sidelines of a meeting of the Italian Football League, three weeks after Mario Balotelli, his star striker, was the victim of racist insults from supporters of Hellas Verona.

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During his first years at the highest level, under the colors of Inter Milan, the player of Ghanaian origin was regularly the target of racist invectives. His protests have rarely found an echo in Italian football.

"A misunderstood joke"

A few hours after this improvised press conference by Massimo Cellino, the Brescia club published a pithy statement pleading the misunderstanding:

" The Brescia Calcio said that it was obviously a joke that aimed to highlight a paradox, clearly misinterpreted, aimed at dramatize an excessive media runaway and with the intention of protecting the player. "

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Balotelli, relatively ineffective since his arrival in Brescia (two goals in seven games), was left out of the group last week in training, by Fabio Grosso, who considered his investment insufficient. "I told Mario that I could help him to a certain extent. Then it's up to him to fend for himself », explained Brescia coach and world champion in 2006. Balotelli was not in Brescia's group this weekend against AS Roma, where the Lombards suffered a ninth loss in twelve games.

Born in Palermo, Mario Balotelli grew up in Brescia, in northern Italy, where he owns an apartment. He arrived at the club, promoted this summer, after a passage of three seasons in Ligue 1, Nice and Marseille. He realized "The dream of (his) father ", which quickly turned into a nightmare for the 29-year-old.


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