Mario Balotelli’s agent has criticised UEFA president Michel Platini over his stance on racism, reiterating the Italy striker’s desire to walk from the pitch if racially abused at Euro 2012.
Balotelli was reportedly the target of racial abuse during Italy’s 1-1 draw with Spain in their tournament opener in Gdansk. In the aftermath, Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, hit out at Platini’s declaration that any player who leaves the field of play in protest will receive a yellow card.
"I have to say that the reaction of UEFA to what Mario said was very strange and I would have expected a different reaction," Raiola said. "Mario has had this problem before and in Italy we have a saying: ‘racism is ignorance’.
"Mario is the kind of lad where this kind of abuse glides off his back. But I was very disappointed with what Michel Platini said and a lot of people are with me on that. I can't say I'm surprised by the reaction, though. I don't believe Platini has done anything to improve the game or help the position of players - as his reaction to Mario shows."
The Italian Football Federation will not make an official complaint to UEFA about the alleged monkey chants from Spain's fans. British camera crews heard the abuse from the sideline, and Raiola praised the no-tolerance attitude toward on-field racism in England.
"I have had some meetings with the English FA about dealing with racism and the FA have been very proactive,” Raiola said. “They are ahead of other countries in Europe."
Balotelli was replaced by Antonio Di Natale during the draw after missing a gilt-edged opportunity when one-on-one with Iker Casillas. Italian federation president, Giancarlo Abete, backed Balotelli to respond in positive fashion when Italy take on Croatia this Friday.
"Balotelli made his contribution but he must try to understand the reality of playing in a major international competition in which there is no forgiveness," Abete told Radio Anch'io Sport. "He nevertheless put the Spanish defence under pressure. Balotelli will not allow himself to be disheartened."© PA