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May 22, 2014

'Balotelli cannot blame Fiorentina fans'

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop discusses the incident that Mario Balotelli faced during Italian national team training.

The president of the Fiorentina supporters' club says Mario Balotelli was wrong to point the finger at Viola fans after the Milan striker was racially insulted while training with the Italian national team on Wednesday.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli chose to close the doors to the afternoon's training session after an unwelcome disturbance in the morning, which was captured on video.

The AC Milan forward was victimised for his skin colour by a spectator who was accompanied away from the Italian Football Association's (FIGC) Coverciano training facilities.

Balotelli kept his cool and was briefly heard complaining that such incidents "only happen in Rome and Florence," but Filippo Pucci hit back at the striker's statement.

"If a single person insults him, Balotelli cannot generalise and say everybody from the city of Florence and all fans of Fiorentina are idiots," he said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I would like to remind Balotelli that unlike some groups of fans, some of which are very close to him, the Viola have never been punished for racial incidents or behaviour."

FIGC President Giancarlo Abete concurred, saying, from a conference in Milan, that "this is unacceptable behaviour on the part of a few individuals, and something that should not happen but that, unfortunately, we have to take into account. What matters is that it is limited to a few individuals only."

Balotelli has been the victim of racially-motivated insults from Italian fans in the past, with Inter Milan being  fined last year when their fans insulted the former Nerazzurri player during a match in which the striker was not even taking part.

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