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Balotelli racially abused at training camp

Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Goal.com

The Italy international striker was targeted by a small group of teenagers as he took part in a training session for Cesare Prandelli's Azzurri ahead of the World Cup

Italy striker Mario Balotelli was racially abused at a pre-World Cup training camp on Wednesday at the team's base near Florence.

A group of teenagers hurled insults at the AC Milan star as he did laps of the pitch at Coverciano. Balotelli shrugged off the incident but did tell team-mates that it was "unbelievable" and that this kind of incident would only happen in "Rome or Florence".

The president of the FIGC, Giancarlo Abete, told the press: "It was unacceptable behaviour on the part of the individuals who, by their actions, have demonstrated a lack of class but we have to put it into context. The important thing is that there were only a few people involved."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli added: "I only heard nice chants. If there is more than one who makes headlines there is nothing I can do about that."

Dario Nardella, the governing mayor of Florence, was disappointed that the incident had occurred on his patch.

"They were unacceptable insults hurled at Balotelli," he declared. "It is even more serious as it came from a young fan."

"Florence is against racism and promotes respect, education and culture."

Balotelli's Italy team-mate, Ciro Immobile, expressed his disgust at what had happened but praised the way in which the former Manchester City striker handled himself.

He told a press conference: "In 2014, we shouldn't have to deal with racism. We have to improve as a nation. Fortunately, Mario was very calm. We will try to make appeals so these episodes do not happen again.

"I'm not ashamed of being Italian but I do get upset by this type of behaviour."

Italy face the Republic of Ireland in London on May 31 in a friendly before heading to Brazil. They were drawn in Group D with England, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

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