Rome – The mayor of Verona has said that Italy striker Mario Balotelli brings abuse upon himself ahead of Hellas Verona's debut Serie A clash at home to AC Milan on Saturday.
“Mario is a troublemaker. There are lots of black players (in Italy), and those who don't wind up opposition fans don't have any problems,” Flavio Tosi, who represents the separatist Northern League party, told Radio Sportiva.
“Balotelli is a formidable player... but he knows how to be irksome when he's out on the pitch, and that exasperates people. He even managed to have issues with Chievo fans, who most certainly are not racist.”
However, Tosi appealed to Hellas fans not to abuse Milan's black players and backed the closing of spectator sections or even whole stadiums should fans racially abuse players.
Lazio and Roma will have to play matches with the hardcore fan sections of the Olympic Stadium in Rome closed after incidents of racist chanting.
“If chants come from four idiotic individuals then it's right to close the sector. If it's the whole stadium at fault then it's correct to close the entire ground,” the Gazzetta Dello Sport quoted him as saying.
Tosi's party has been embroiled in a series of racism scandals.
He was the only Northern League politician to publicly apologise to Italy's Minister for Integration Cecile Kyenge after Senate vice-president and fellow party member Roberto Calderoli said she looked like a orangutan.
Hellas Verona's match with Milan will be their first in the top flight for 11 years after securing promotion from Serie B on the final day of last season. – Reuters