Friday 6 December 2019

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli will walk off the pitch if he becomes a victim of racism at Euro 2012

ITALIAN striker Mario Balotelli has said he will "leave the pitch and go home" if there are racist incidents at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

The 21-year-old said in an interview with magazine France Football: "Let’s see what happens at the Euro. I hope that there will not be a problem. Because I really can’t handle that."

Manchester City’s Balotelli was born in Palermo but is of Ghanaian descent.

In a 2009 match against Juventus, when Balotelli played for Inter, Juve fans shouted racist chants against the striker, who scored in the 1-1 draw. Juve was later made to play a game behind closed doors.

When asked about the incident, Balotelli said: "I remember very well. But I also scored a goal.

"I had to pretend I hadn’t seen anything. I wanted to play. I was young. It was up to me to tell him. But if I had told the referee [to stop the match] I wouldn’t have scored."

He said: "I cannot bear racism, it’s unacceptable for me. If it had happened again I would straight away leave the pitch and go home. We are in 2012. It can’t happen …"

Italy have been drawn in Group C alongside defending champions Spain, 2008 quarter-finalists Croatia and the Republic of Ireland and get their campaign off on June 10 against the Spaniards.

Balotelli has been included in Prandelli's squad for the European Championships despite several ill-judged moments on and off the pitch last season.

He has a history of eccentric behaviour, both during his time in Italy and since his move to Manchester City in 2010.

He said that at 21-years-old he feels like a child, an adolescent and an adult: "at the same time".

"I'm happy to be that way, and I hope I'll always be like that," he said.

He added: "I am different ... If you find another guy like me, I’ll buy you dinner!"

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

PA Media

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport