Brescia ultras have released a statement defending their Verona counterparts and labelling Mario Balotelli as “arrogant” after he was subjected to racist abuse in a recent Serie A match.
The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker kicked the ball towards opposition fans during Brescia’s 2-1 defeat on November 3 after being racially targeted by home supporters.
Balotelli was visibly distressed and threatened to walk off the pitch as the referee briefly halted the game while an announcement was played over the PA system threatening to suspend the clash unless the chanting stopped.
Verona manager Ivan Juric claimed after the game he did not hear any racist chanting coming from home supporters but Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal ordered Verona to close the part of the stadium where they said the abuse was “clearly perceptible” for their next home game.
The head of a Verona ultras supporters group, Luca Castellini, was also handed an 11-year ban by the club over racist comments he made about Balotelli the following day but, in a statement, Brescia ultras refused to condemn the Verona fans because of his comments, said ultras everywhere were victimised, and criticised Balotelli for an apparent lack of commitment.
“If Balotelli was not ready psychologically to face the Verona fanbase and, above all, such a delicate match in which our city and our coach – among the most beloved figures – was taking his final chance at saving his job, then he should’ve said so and left his place to someone less… irritable than him. None of us would’ve been upset if he had, quite the contrary…” the statement said.
“The personal declarations of one of the leaders of the Verona Curva cannot justify the witch-hunt sparked by the media and institutions in yet another attempt to criminalise and destroy the entire Ultras world.
“This does not mean that certain chants are legitimate or acceptable, but nor are all Verona fans racists and the Verona Curva some sort of KKK coven.
“Entire fanbases cannot be considered racist, but racism does exist and it is often used to create mass panic in public opinion. This unconventional language is used more and more by public and political figures, but of course nobody would think of banning them because of some code of ethics.”
The statement added: “We have absolutely no doubts that Balotelli is to all intents Italian, and even a Bresciano, but the arrogance that he continually gives off is unjustifiable.