AC Milan publish picture of Paolo Berlusconi 'making peace' with Mario Balotelli following racism row

AC Milan vice-president called the striker 'the family's little n****'

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The Independent Football

AC Milan have made moves to end the racism row that has engulfed the club since video footage of vice-president Paolo Berlusconi making racist remarks regarding Mario Balotelli emerged last weekend.

The former Manchester City striker, who only joined AC Milan last week, was described as "negretto di famiglia" - translated as "the family's little n****", by Berlusconi, younger brother of the club president Silvio.

The comments were made at a political meeting in Monza near Milan on Sunday, and were caught on video by local reporters. They were then aired on the website of Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and while not receiving much attention immediately, criticism took off after foreign media picked up on the footage.

AC Milan made no immediate comment on the incident, but today posted a picture of Paolo Berlusconi and Balotelli shaking hands and smiling at each other on their official website.

A statement was published to accompany the picture and read: "Today the vice-president of AC Milan, Paolo Berlusconi, had a brief conversation with Mario Balotelli while helping out at Milanello (Milan's training ground)."

Berlusconi's comments came at a sensitive time for the club and Italian football, with Milan midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng recently staging a walk-off in a friendly match after being racially abused by a section of supporters. Boateng's actions won praise from Berlusconi senior.

Paolo Berlusconi had been attending a rally for a candidate for his brother's right-wing People of Freedom party when he made the comments.

He said: "Okay, we are all off to see the family's little n****. He's a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well - you can even have a chance to meet the president (Silvio Berlusconi)."

It is not the first time Balotelli has been at the centre of a race row in Italy. During Euro 2012 Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport published a cartoon depicting the former Inter Milan player as King Kong. The image of a giant Balotelli was shown swatting away footballs as he scaled Big Ben.

A spokesman for the anti-racism organisation Kick It Out pointed out at the time of the cartoon's publication the importance of Balotelli for you black players.

"Mario is such an important person in Italian football.

"Aspiring players in Italy who want to follow in his footsteps could wonder what support they will have when they get to his level when they see cartoons like that."

Balotelli's start to life on the pitch at AC Milan has started promisingly, with the striker scoring twice on his debut against Udineses at the weekend.