Mario Balotelli has 'taken too much sun' - AC Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi
MILAN -- AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has made another gaffe, saying striker Mario Balotelli has "taken too much sun."
He has now joked that Italy forward Balotelli, who is black, "is also Italian even if he has taken too much sun."
Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi was speaking at the Serie A's club training ground during celebrations to mark his 30 years as owner.
"We've got a squad rich in talent, like [Jeremy] Menez and Balotelli, who is Italian but has seen a bit too much sun," Berlusconi said, with Libero reporting he then praised on-loan Liverpool forward Balotelli.
He said: "In training, I see him take shots which rip a hole in the net. He's got an exceptional control of the ball, he's just not playing in the right position.
"I've asked him many times: 'Mario, do you want to win? If you want to win, you need to score and to score, you need to be close to the goal.'"
Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants and raised by Italian foster parents. He has suffered racist abuse throughout his career.
Speaking after being racially abused at a national team training camp in 2014, Balotelli said "racism is everywhere. Maybe it is more open here, or in Spain. There are racists in England but I think they hide it more."
He added: "I know people are fighting this thing, and it's important, but in the media every time I have talked about this subject people talk about it for three or four days but then everything goes back to normal."
Balotelli signed for Liverpool in 2014 after a season at Milan, before returning to the San Siro last summer. Berlusconi says Milan could buy Balotelli back "if he wises up."
Racism continues to be a widespread problem in Italian sport with Lazio fans recently banned from attending two of their side's Serie A home fixtures after directing racial chants towards Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
Berlusconi's comments regarding Balotelli have not been the subject of significant media coverage in Italy.
ESPN FC's Italy correspondent Ben Gladwell contributed to this report