Verona government officials have been called for legal action against Brescia striker Mario Balotelli amid claims that he defamed the city by reporting alleged racist abuse he suffered during Sunday’s Serie A fixture.
Former Manchester City and Liverpool striker Balotelli kicked the ball into the crowd and contemplated walking off the pitch after he said that he was targeted by Verona supporters who were making monkey chants directed at him.
The match official stopped play for five minutes while announcements were made over the public tannoy imploring supporters to refrain from using racist taunts in the latest such incident which has blighted the European game in recent months.
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Balotelli, who was born in Sicily to Ghanian parents, was offered encouragement and support by a host of figures in Italian football including Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti, but didn’t quite get the same level of support from Verona mayor Federico Sboarina, who was in attendance at the game but denied that any racist sentiments were uttered by the club’s supporters – and the local government may take the issue one step further.
According to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, four city councillors have put forth a motion to propose that “the mayor and the legal offices of the municipality should take legal action against the footballer and all those who attack Verona by unjustly defaming it.”
“It is no longer fair that Verona is put in the dock when, as in this case, nothing happened,” the motion continued.
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Several watchdog groups have criticized Italian football’s seemingly lax stance on racist chanting during games. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly also considered walking off the pitch in similar circumstances last season, while more recently Romelu Lukaku of Inter Milan spoke of abuse he experienced at the hands of Cagliari supporters.
Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal is expected to release a statement on their findings of Balotelli’s case later on Tuesday.