If you thought you could get away with hateful remarks at any European sportsperson, you might want to rethink your decision, because chances are you might not get away with it.
A 38-year-old Sicilian man was banned from European sports events for five years on Thursday for directing racist chants at footballer Mario Balotelli. He was also barred from frequenting areas that fans pass through on match days.
Balotelli is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Brescia and the Italy national team. He was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants
Italian football began the decade with a little bit of history repeating itself. Mario Balotelli scored the first Serie A goal of the 2010s, and on Sunday he delivered the opening strike of the 2020s as well, but was racially abused during that game, and suffered abuse by his opponent’s supporters on that Sunday.
“It’s a loss that hurt but we will come back stronger and we are on the right way! Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU! saynotoracism,” Balotelli ranted on Instagram after a 2-1 defeat.
This time around, the issue was acknowledged – both by the match official, who suspended the game for a short time after a warning from the stadium PA went unheeded, and his opponent Lazio who issued a statement threatening legal action against fans who betray their sporting passion and cause great damage to the image of the club.