Italian football club, Verona, has announced the ban of hard-core ultras supporter leader, Luca Castellini, for his racist comment against soccer player, Mario Balotelli.
The announcement comes after Castellini said in a radio interview that the Brescia forward would never be “completely Italian”.
“Balotelli’s Italian because he has Italian citizenship, but he can never be completely Italian,” said Castellini.
His comments provoked a 10-year stadium ban and a one-match partial stadium closure of the football club by Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal.
When asked if Verona fans were racist, Castellini added: “We have a negro in our team and he scored yesterday and all of Verona applauded.”
The club stated that Castellini was barred “based on considerations and expressions seriously contrary to those that distinguish the ethical principles and values of our club”.
Despite Verona disputing the claims of abuse, a video published on Twitter showed a number of supporters directing abuse at Balotelli before the forward booted the ball at them in the stands.
This is brilliant from MARIO BALOTELLI!
There is no place for racism in our game.
Scenes in Italy:
Hellas Verona vs Brescia game was halted after the striker left the playing field due to racist chants from the Home fans. pic.twitter.com/erH2ZfVfnz
— @Agbakpedom (@Dom91204346) November 3, 2019
The incident which occurred over the weekend has generated controversy and stirred widespread condemnation.
According to the referee’s report, Balotelli was targeted with racially discriminating chants which were “clearly perceptible” to both the player and match officials. The monkey chants were generated from the stands at the Marc Antonio Bentegodi Stadium on Sunday when Balotelli was in possession of the ball.
Italian-born Ballotelli isn’t new to such racist attacks. He has faced racist chants throughout his career as a footballer including attacks while he played in the U.K for Manchester City and Liverpool and in Italy for Inter Milan.