In Saturday’s French Ligue1 match against Dijon, the Nice striker was shown a yellow card by referee Nicolas Rainville after pointing out the reaction from supporters to him after missing a chance during the second half at Stade Gaston-Gerard.
A message on Nice’s Twitter feed read: “In the meantime, Mario Balotelli has inherited a yellow card after…getting annoyed with racist insults from the public.”
Dans l’intervalle, Mario Balotelli a hérité d’un carton jaune, après… s’être agacé d’insultes racistes du public. pic.twitter.com/5C1V8MXBYq
— OGC Nice (@ogcnice) February 10, 2018
Commenting on the incident, Dijon manager Olivier Dall’Oglio said: “That is the first time that you hear about something like this at the Gaston-Gerard. We have a lot of players of colour and foreigners in our team, and we are very happy to have them.
“There has never been a problem with racism here. If these taunts existed, they are completely out of order… I didn’t hear anything.”
Nice President Jean-Pierre Rivière statement on the racist abuse read: “We find it deplorable that Mario had to suffer another incidence of racism.
“It is inexcusable, and we must unfortunately remind ourselves that this is not the first time that he has suffered this since he came to our league. He has all our support.
“We are all convinced of the same thing, racism has no place in a football stadium, or anywhere.”
In 2017, Balotelli was the victim of monkey chants by an opposing fan from Bastia, who confessed and was banned by the club. He also experienced widespread racism while playing in Italy.
Last year Fare documented 11 incidents where players were booked for protesting against racism, or felt they had to walk off because of a lack of action.
The incident in Dijon again opens up the debate on the role of referees in protecting players, a debate that went mainstream after Sulley Muntari walked-off in 2017 during a Serie A match in Italy.
To the BBC, Fare Executive Director Piara Powar said: “The French league is one of the most diverse in Europe and so one would expect referees to understand and act seriously after players complain about racism,
“Mario Balotelli should be be given added protection by referees and stadium officials, not a yellow card when he brings it to the attention of a referee.”