Kick It Out condemns Mario Balotelli's booking after racist abuse
Kick It Out have condemned the comments toward Mario Balotelli after the Nice forward claimed he had been the victim of racist abuse.
Balotelli received a yellow card from referee Nicolas Rainville after gesturing to the crowd during Nice's 3-2 defeat at Dijon in Saturday's Ligue 1 contest.
The former Manchester City and Liverpool forward complained that he had been targeted by racist comments.
The English anti-racism and discrimination organisation released a statement, noting that it has contacted Football Against Racism in Europe in order to raise its concerns with Ligue 1 officials.
"Kick It Out was shocked to see Mario Balotelli booked for bringing to the attention of the referee alleged racist chanting directed towards him by Dijon supporters," the statement read.
"It is unacceptable and wrong to see that once again, a match official has failed to apply the UEFA protocol -- in place for a number of years -- which requires action to be taken to stop the game to deal with the offending abuse."
The organisation also said that it "expects a strong response from the French football authorities in condemning both the alleged racist chanting from Dijon supporters and the failure of the referee to follow protocol to halt the behaviour, as well as the decision to compound Balotelli's experience as a victim by booking him for merely asking the match official to do his job."
C'est dans la boîte 📸/ Gros gros mental de l'équipe dans ce match à rebondissements . Bonne victoire à la maison 3-2 face @ogcnice ! Mention spéciale @juliotavares_11 🙏🏾💪🏾👏🏾 / Point noir de la soirée : Les insultes envers @mb459 , nous savons très bien que ce ne sont pas nos supporters mais juste une poignée de supporter mal intentionnée , cela n'a rien à faire sur les terrains de foot & même dans la vie de tous les jours #NoRacism 🙏🏾
Meanwhile, Dijon striker Wesley Said has thrown his support behind Balotelli, acknowledging that the comments were made during the game.
"Black point of the evening: the insults towards Mario Balotelli," Said, who is black, wrote in an Instagram post. "We know very well it's not our fans, just a handful of supporters with bad intentions. That has no place on a football pitch and even in everyday life."
Nice reportedly will study footage of the game in an attempt to verify Balotelli's claims as no other member of the visiting delegation heard the insults.
Balotelli did not ask Nice to make a complementary report to the referee, but the club are likely to take the matter further if they can find proof to substantiate the Italian striker's complaint.
ESPN FC France correspondent Ian Holyman contributed to this report.
Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman