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Thursday, 19 August 2010

ManCity's Balotelli speaks out about racism

Young Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli has spoken out about the pain of suffering racial abuse from fans in his homeland, following his big money move to the English Premier League.

The 20-year-old of Ghanaian origin, an often controversial figure in Italy, moved to England from Inter Milan last week, just a few days after making his Italy debut in a friendly against Ivory Coast.

And having settled into his new home in Manchester, where he has been reunited with his former Inter boss Roberto Mancini, Balotelli spoke about the trauma of being racially abused, in particular from certain sections of the Juventus crowd.

"There were two or three incidents which are always annoying," he told Wednesday's La Gazetta dello Sport.

"I had to learn to live with racism in Italy, to pretend it was nothing, but it burnt.

"In England that doesn't happen. But it shouldn't happen anywhere."

Despite the racial abuse he suffered, Balotelli claimed it was not that but journalists that drove him away from the country of his birth.

And it was an incident after a Champions League match that for Balotelli was the last straw.

"Right after Inter-Barcelona (I decided to leave Italy). There were pages written about me in the newspapers, it was difficult to live in Milan and I told my agent: I want to go," he said.

Balotelli had been jeered by his own fans during that game, a crucial 3-1 victory in which he made a lacklustre 20-minute cameo appearance, and he further enraged them by throwing his shirt to the ground after the final whistle.

He was allegedly attacked by his own team-mates after the incident and was roundly criticised in the Italian press.
But he defended his reputation as a troublesome character.

"They say it in Italy but I'm not a bad boy. I'm an unusual guy, neither bad nor particularly good, very lively but normal."

And now that he is back working for the man who gave him his Inter debut, Balotelli had nothing to say about the coach with whom he regularly fell out last season: Jose Mourinho, now at Real Madrid.

"Mourinho is no longer my coach and I don't want to talk about him. Really, I don't care, I'm not interested in the reputation I had in Italy."

Looking at his new home in Manchester, Balotelli said he is hoping to score lots of goals.

"Apart from the paparazzi who are always following me, it seems a calm city and I like that.

"The only real problem is the weather.

"For a striker it's almost easier than in Italy where football is more tactical.

"I hope I'll feel good here, I can't wait to start playing and I'll do everything to be in the first team