Italy striker Mario Balotelli has called on everyone to join the fight against racism after he was abused by both sets of supporters during an international friendly in Austria. Italy and Romania drew 1-1 in Klagenfurt on Wednesday night but the game caught the headlines for the treatment of the Manchester City forward.
Romanian fans jeered him while his own supporters held up a banner saying: 'No to a multi-cultural Italy'. Italian police gave the names of 41 members of a right-wing group called 'Ultras Italy' to Austrian police, who may press charges.
Speaking to Sky TV, the Italian of Ghanaian parentage said: "On my own I can't do anything, everyone has to do something against racism. Last night I was very disappointed but I'll say it again, I'm not the one who can make these people change.
"Brescia is my city and I live well there but it's also a difficult place, when I was young many kids attacked me because of the colour of my skin. What happened yesterday is racism but it's also the stupidity of a few people. I'm sure that if any one of them met me personally, they'd ask for my autograph. That's another reason I prefer to keep quiet and not say anything this time."
Balotelli was asked if he considered leaving the pitch but said that was never an option due to the pride he feels when representing his country. "That would have been really too much for a few idiots. And, what's more, it was my second cap," he said.
Fans displaying the banner told Austrian police who asked them to take it down that it wasn't racism but "merely an opinion", Italian news agency Ansa reported.
It's not the first time Balotelli has been the target of racial abuse, having also suffered over the previous two seasons while at Inter Milan, particularly at the hands of a section of Juventus supporters. Inter Milan's Cameroonian forward Samuel Eto'o, meanwhile, was the victim of jeers during his team's recent game at Cagliari.