The head of a Hellas Verona ultras supporters group has been handed an 11-year ban by the Serie A club over racist comments he made about Brescia forward Mario Balotelli
The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker kicked the ball towards opposition fans during the 2-1 defeat in the Italian top-flight clash on Sunday after being racially targeted by home supporters.
The referee briefly halted the game early in the second half while an announcement was played over the PA system threatening to suspend the clash unless the chanting stopped.
Balotelli was visibly distressed, picking up the ball and threatening to walk off the pitch during the away defeat.
In a club statement, Verona confirmed the supporter in question, Luca Castellini, was given a ban until “June 30, 2030.”
In an interview on Monday, the supporter said: “Balotelli is Italian because he has Italian citizenship, but he can never be completely Italian.”
Balotelli, 29, scored for Brescia in the 85th minute during the 2-1 defeat.
He later responded to Castellini’s comments, saying his outburst had “nothing to do with football”, adding, “you are getting into social and historical situations that are bigger than you, you small-minded people.”
Meanwhile, Verona manager Ivan Juric claimed after the game he did not hear any racist chanting coming from home supporters.
Verona hit with partial stadium closure
Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal on Tuesday also ordered Verona to close the part of the stadium where the abuse was heard for their next home game.
It said in its report Balotelli was the target of racially discriminatory chanting which was “clearly perceptible” to both the player and the match delegate.
“Mario Balotelli Barwuah was the subject of chants of racial discrimination on the part of some supporters of Hellas Verona positioned in the section called “poltrone est”, the report stated.