03 November 2019 18:32
Players and match officials persuaded Mario Balotelli to remain on the pitch following racist abuse from the stands Mario Balotelli kicked the ball into the crowd and threatened to walk off the pitch following racial abuse during Brescia's defeat by Hellas Verona. Referee Maurizio Mariani suspended play and initiated the anti-racism protocol after Italy striker Balotelli, 29, picked up the ball in the 54th-minute. Brescia team-mates and the officials persuaded the ex-Manchester City and Liverpool player to stay on the field. An announcement warned fans that more abuse would see the game abandoned. Balotelli played the full match and scored a sublime goal in the 85th-minute - though his side were unable to find a late equaliser.
Balotelli previously said he would walk off the pitch if he was again subjected to racial abuse after he and AC Milan team-mates were targeted in a Serie A match against Roma in 2013. In March 2018, the then-Nice forward had a booking for complaining about alleged racist chants by Dijon fans rescinded. On Saturday, another Serie A match between Roma and Napoli was temporarily paused due to chants aimed at Napoli supporters. Anti-discriminatory body Fare claimed earlier this season that Italian football's disciplinary systems to combat racism are "not fit for purpose". That came after Cagliari were cleared of racist chanting towards Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, with a judging panel determining there was not enough evidence for sanctions.
Mario Balotelli almost walked off the pitch during Brescia's Serie A visit to Hellas Verona on Sunday after being subjected to racial abuse. The 29-year-old kicked the ball into the stands and started to walk off during the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi. The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the issue. Scroll to continue with content Ad After appeals from his team-mates and Verona players, Balotelli decided to stay on the pitch and see out the game. Chants of support for Balotelli from large parts of the crowd were heard after the incident. The former Manchester City and AC Milan striker, who has historically had a fractious relationship with Hellas Verona supporters, went on to score a stunning 25-yard strike in the 85th minute.