The Italy striker Mario Balotelli has said he is growing weary of hearing racial abuse when playing football, following Italys 1-1 draw with Romania.
The 20-year-old earned his second cap for Italy, but was the subject of abuse every time he touched the ball in the international friendly played in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Banners on view
Banners were on view at the ground saying 'There are no Italian blacks,' 'No to a multi-ethnic Italy' and 'Only Italians in Italy's team.'
The latter targeted Cristian Ledesma, a naturalized Argentina-born midfielder from Lazio.
Balotelli, who is the son of Brescia-based Ghanaian immigrants, told Mediaset: “Honestly, I don't know what to say. If I have to hear those chants every time, you can't go forward like that. I leave others to do the judgment. I am happy to be in the national team.
“It wouldn't be right to stop a game because a few fans that turn up to the stadium behave like that. We need to change these people but it's not me that has to do it.
“Where I live, the people don't reason like these people. They should resign themselves. A multi-racial Italy already exists.”
The Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he was “disgusted” by the abuse. “I'll definitely not change my ideas, my team will always be open to whoever holds an Italian passport,” he said.
“My anger and disappointment are so strong that I want to make a powerful statement but I'm holding myself back so as not to give them (the racists) more publicity.
“It's a sign that our country has many problems but we forget that for decades we were the country with the most emmigrants in the world; Italians can be found everywhere, in every corner of the planet.
“What we need in cases such as this is a strong symbolic gesture so at the end of the game I gave Balotelli a hug and if this happens again, we all will.
Kurt Wachter co-ordinator of Austrian FARE partner FairPlay reported, “as people who were present in the stadium reported to us not only Italian fans were involved in the racist abuse of Mario Balotelli but also a group of Romanian supporters blamed him by shouting monkey chants. Only 5.400 visitors were in the stadium therefore both xenophobic fan groups could be heard loudly.“