Mario Balotelli has reacted angrily to claims he sold drugs for the Camorra – the fearsome mafia group based in and around Naples.
The AC Milan striker posted furious messages on Twitter denying the accusations, which were made by gangster-turned-supergrass Armando De Rosa at a money laundering trial yesterday.
De Rosa is said to have claimed the 22-year-old had sold drugs “as a joke” after meeting Mafiosi from the Russo and Amato-Pagano clans in the run-down Scampia neighbourhood of northern Naples.
De Rosa reportedly told the court: “A friend called and said ’Would you like to see Balotelli’ who was in Scampia. I thought it was a joke but he asked me to come and see him at a syringe exchange he had.”
The former gangster went on to say that, after the striker watched a “picciotto” (a young, low-ranking street dealer) sell cocaine and heroin to addicts, the former Manchester City star asked if he could try dealing “for a joke”.
De Rosa said: “So he handed a dose to the next client. I remember asking him if he had recognised Balotelli but he didn’t know what was happening or believe me.”
Balotelli took to Twitter to furiously deny the allegations just minutes after a Naples-based television channel first broadcast them.
In a tweet reportedly aimed at prosecutors, Balotelli wrote: “Ah, so now I’m a drug dealer… You should be ashamed. You are using my name just to publicise yourselves.”
Balotelli’s tweet was removed hours later, with Italian media claiming AC Milan had forced him to take it down. The club has made no public statement on the situation, however.
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli refused to be drawn on the subject, insisting Balotelli's comments would suffice given the “sensitive” nature of the issue. “It seems to me that Mario has responded, so there’s nothing else to say,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Just hours after the first tweet was removed, Balotelli took to Twitter once again, this time turning on the television channel that first broadcasted the Mafioso’s alleged claims.
The striker tweeted: “Your newsroom should be closed down. Unless you apologise you will sweat the tears of my mother.”
De Rosa’s claims come after investigators questioned Balotelli over allegations he had been show around Naples by gangsters in 2010.
Balotelli admitted being in Naples at the time, but said he had left Scampia after realising it was a “dangerous area”. He has never been charged with any offence relating to the visit and has never formally been suspected of any criminal activity.