Mario Balotelli was subjected to racial insults while training for Italy at the Italian Football Association’s (FIGC) training centre in Coverciano, near Florence yesterday.
The AC Milan forward did not respond or react to the insulting chants from one fan, who was identified and led away from the training centre.
Most of the fans watching the 30-man Italy squad training showed their support for the 23-year-old, the FIGC reports on its website.
A statement from the FIGC read: “Some boys surrounding the field made some offensive chants towards Mario Balotelli and one of them pronounced a racial insult.”
Although he was “distressed by the incident,” Balotelli continued to train with his colleagues. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Balotelli said to his teammates: “It’s incredible, these things happen only in Rome and Florence.”
The president of the FIGC, Giancarlo Abete, condemned their actions. “It is absolutely unacceptable behaviour by individuals who should not exist, but sadly we have to accept they are there. The important thing is that they are a minority,” he said at a meeting in Milan.
It is not the first time Balotelli has been victim of racially-motivated insults from Italian fans with opposition fans often targeting him in a bid to unsettle him and provoke a reaction.
Inter Milan were fined last year when their fans insulted their former player during a match in which Balotelli was not even playing.