The Brescia forward almost walked off the pitch before being convinced to finish the game, and scoring a stunning goal
Brescia striker Mario Balotelli says those who deny he was racially abused during Sunday’s Serie A match at Hellas Verona are not “real men”.
Balotelli kicked the round ball angrily towards Verona supporters early in the second half after hearing abuse , before threatening to walk off the pitch.
The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out to the crowd in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Balotelli was persuaded to stay on and see out the game by team-mates and Verona players, with the former Manchester City and Inter Milan striker going on to score a stunning late goal in Brescia’s 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.
Speaking after the game, Verona’s head coach Ivan Juric and president Maurizio Setti claimed they heard no abuse directed at Balotelli. , with the former stating: “I’m not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing.”
Alongside a video showing his reaction to the abuse and his goal on Instagram, Balotelli wrote: “Thanks to all the colleagues on and off the field for the solidarity expressed toward me and all of the messages received from fans. A heartfelt thanks. You’ve shown yourself to be real men, not like those who deny the evidence.”
Balotelli also reposted a video taken by a fan of him being abused, and the Italy international wrote: “To the ‘people’ in this end who made the monkey noises: shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you in front of your children, wives, parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances…shame.”
Verona’s chairman Maurizio Setti also denied hearing any racist abuse during the game.
“I confirm that we have heard nothing,” Setti said. “Verona fans are passionate but they’re not racists.
“When there are cases of racism we are the first to condemn them but it has been wrong to generalise, speaking of racist chants and fans. Maybe two or three people among 20,000 fans might have said something.
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“Those two or three people, if there are, we are ready to find them and punish them because I strongly condemn any such incident. I met Balotelli and I apologised if someone said something to him.”
The result leaves Brescia in the relegation zone, with the club announcing after the game they had sacked head coach Eugenio Corini.