Mario Balotelli: Hellas Verona ban head of ultras for 11 years after alleged racist abuse

Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal have ordered a partial closure of Verona’s stadium

Tom Kershaw
Tuesday 05 November 2019 15:08
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Mario Balotelli attempts to leave pitch after racist abuse from Hellas Veronas supporters

The head of Hellas Verona’s ultras group has been banned by the club for 11 years relating to the alleged racist abuse aimed at Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli kicked the ball into the crowd and threatened to walk off the pitch early in the second half of Verona’s 2-1 league win after he heard fans making monkey noises.

In an interview following the match, the head of the club’s ultras, Luca Castellini, subsequently claimed Balotelli “was clowning around” and “could never be completely Italian”.

A statement released by the club confirmed that Castellini has been suspended until 30 June, 2030 for ”considerations and expressions seriously contrary to those that distinguish the ethical principles and the values ​​of our club”.

Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal on Tuesday ordered Verona to close the part of the stadium where the abuse was heard for their next home game.

However, Balotelli also came under attack from politicians and a group of Verona councillors, who asked the municipal government to take action against him for damaging the city’s image as the fallout continued from Italian football’s latest racism scandal.

The 29-year-old has faced racist abuse throughout his career in Italy and was backed by Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and by rival club Roma, among others, for his action on Sunday.

It said in its report that Balotelli was the target of racially discriminatory chanting which was “clearly perceptible” to both the player and the match delegate. Both the home club and Verona’s mayor had denied the abuse had taken place.

Italian authorities have long been criticised by anti-racism campaigners for not doing enough to tackle the problem and last month Cagliari escaped sanctions after Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku allegedly suffered racist abuse from their fans.

Reuters contributed to this report

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