Italy Soccer Serie A
BRESCIA, Italy (AP) — Mario Balotelli slammed Lazio soccer fans after the Italian forward was once again the target of racist chants in Brescia’s 2-1 home defeat on Sunday.
The Serie A match was halted for a few minutes shortly after the half-hour mark and an announcement made to fans at the stadium, while Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi gesticulated to the visiting fans to stop the chants.
Brescia was leading 1-0 at the time following a goal scored by Balotelli, who had also been subjected to racial abuse earlier in the match.
Balotelli posted a video of his goal on Instagram after the match and wrote: “Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU!”
The 29-year-old Balotelli was singled out by Lazio fans for abuse all match with other offensive chants, that weren't specifically racist, against him and his family.
Lazio released a statement hours after the game.
“As has always happened in the past, Lazio dissociates itself in the most exhaustive way possible from the discriminatory behavior carried out by a very small minority of fans during the match against Brescia,” it read.
“The club reiterates once again the condemnation of similar unjustified behavior and confirms its intent to prosecute those who betray their sporting passion causing a serious injury to the image of the club and the team.”
Balotelli was also the target of racial abuse earlier this season when he threatened to leave the field due to racist chants directed at him by Hellas Verona fans during a match in November.
Racism has been a problem all season in Italy with offensive chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly as well as Balotelli. All of the players targeted — except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian — are black, and many of the incidents have gone unpunished.