Italy news

Balotelli rails against racists

Italy striker issues Euro threat

ESPN staff

Mario Balotelli: Determined to stamp out racism

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli insists he will storm off the pitch if racially abused while playing for Italy at next month's European Championship.

Balotelli has been the target of racist attacks both on and off the pitch in Europe, and is adamant he will not stand for such behaviour in Poland and the Ukraine. UEFA officials have the authority to abandon any match if violence or abuse is taking place, but Balotelli says he will be the first to act.

"Let's see what happens at the Euro," Balotelli told France Football. "I hope that there will not be a problem because I really can't handle that. I cannot bear racism, it's unacceptable for me. If it happened again I would straight away leave the pitch and go home. We are in 2012. It can't happen."

On the pitch, Balotelli has been subject to abuse while playing for Inter Milan against Juventus, with the Turin-based club forced to play behind closed doors after the incident. Porto were then fined £16,000 as a result of monkey chants directed at Balotelli during a Europa League match against City earlier this year.

"I remember very well the Juventus game, but I also scored a goal," Balotelli said. "I had to pretend I hadn't seen or heard anything. I wanted to play. I was young. It was up to me to tell the referee, but if I had told the referee to stop the match I wouldn't have scored. Occasionally, you're so good that people can't think of any other way to make you angry."

The controversial striker, who once had bananas thrown at him while at a bar in Rome, also said if he encountered off-field abuse he "will go to prison because I will kill him".

Speaking about the incident in Rome, Balotelli said: "These two or three lads were lucky the police came straight away because, I swear, I would have given them a proper kicking. I would truly have destroyed them. I hope that doesn't happen again.

"I'm black and proud to have African roots. I think I'm lucky to be black. People say about me that I'm a black boy who has fun, earns money and has girls. It's not like that. It's too easy to judge people through what you see."

© PA