Italy frontman Balotelli won't stand for Euro 2012 racism
Italy hotshot Mario Balotelli has vowed to walk out of the Euros if he is subjected to racist abuse from fans - going as far to say he'd even "kill" anyone who targets him.
The home support in Poland and Ukraine has come under intense scrutiny during the past couple of days, with former England international Sol Campbell warning Three Lions supporters not to travel because of the threat of racism and violence.
Balotelli revealed he has had to deal with such abuse before, citing an incident in a Rome bar. And the fiery Italian made it pretty clear what would happen if he was the victim of such an attack next month.
“There were two or three boys, and it was lucky that the police arrived quickly because, I swear, I would have beaten them,” Balotelli said of his past experiences.
“I would have really destroyed them. I hope it will not happen again because if someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.”
While Balotelli’s outburst again highlights a serious issue within the ‘beautiful game’, the Azzurri striker should have perhaps been more careful in how he phrased his comments.
He has also had to cope with abuse while playing, subjected to racist taunts from Juventus fans when he was playing for Inter Milan in 2009.
And the controversial 21-year-old revealed he plans to leave the tournament if he has to put up with the same sort of treatment.
“Let’s see what happens at the Euros. I hope it will pass without a problem. I really couldn’t deal with that,” he added.
“I will not accept it at all. If it should happen again, I will leave the pitch immediately and I will go back home.
“It’s 2012 and it is unacceptable. Sometimes when you are strong as a player, people have to find other ways to make you angry. They think the only way to hurt you is to provoke you.”
Italy take on holders Spain, Croatia and Ireland in Group C, with the Irish camp still dissecting yesterday’s accusations of “betrayal” by ousted squad member Kevin Foley.
The Wolves full-back was stunned boss Giovanni Trapattoni opted not to name him in his 23 only moments before he announced his final cut.
Foley said: “It is hard to take, you know. I sort of feel betrayed. I don’t want to go into too much detail. I just feel betrayed.”