Italian racism: Balotelli targeted again, this time by Lazio fans

January 6 – Despite all Serie A clubs collectively vowing to combat racism,  Brescia striker Mario Balotelli was again targeted at the weekend, this time by Lazio fans during his club’s 2-1 home defeat.

The fixture was halted for a few minutes shortly after the half-hour mark and an announcement made on the stadium’s tannoy system, while Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi urged visiting fans to behave.

Brescia were leading 1-0 at the time following a goal scored by Balotelli, who had also been subjected to racial abuse earlier in the match. Afterwards he wrote on Instagram: “Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU!”

Lazio, of course, issued a statement defending the majority of its fans even though the club has a history of racist chanting.

“As has always happened in the past, Lazio dissociates itself in the most exhaustive way possible from the discriminatory behaviour carried out by a very small minority of fans during the match against Brescia,” it said.

“The club reiterates once again the condemnation of similar unjustified behaviour 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.”

Racism has plagued Italian football all season with offensive chants aimed at the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly. All of the players targeted – except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian – are black, and many of the incidents have gone unpunished. Balotelli has been especially singled out and in November threatened to leave the field after being targeted at him by Hellas Verona fans.

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