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 By Ian Holyman

Referee who booked Mario Balotelli after alleged racism criticised

Mario Balotelli explains to referee Nicolas Rainville why he made the gesture.

The referee who booked Mario Balotelli for making a gesture toward Dijon fans after being subjected monkey chants is "doubly guilty" in the alleged racist abuse, a French body defending black rights has claimed.

The Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) has made a complaint to police over the actions of referee Nicolas Rainville, who showed Balotelli the yellow card during Nice's Ligue 1 defeat at the weekend.

Balotelli had reportedly told Rainville he had reacted after he had been the target of racism from the home fans.

"The footballer suffered twice: racist chants and the punishment that followed," a CRAN press release stated. "The CRAN would like to remind everyone that racism is a crime, laid down in the penal code. The referee who does nothing in the face of racism is complicit.

"When he punishes the victim, he is doubly guilty. He deserves to be hauled before the courts and receive an exemplary punishment."

The French Football League (LFP) has said its Disciplinary Commission will look into the matter when it sits for the first time since the incident on Thursday.

CRAN, however, wants the French government to act.

"The world is upside down," CRAN president Louis-Georges Tin said. "Once again, it's the victims who are punished. We ask the Minister for Sport to intervene in this matter with all the necessary severity."

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere has assured Balotelli of the club's full support, stating: "We are all convinced of the same thing, racism has no place in a football stadium, nor anywhere else."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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