Mario Balotelli has been subject to racist abuse in Italy after the Milan vice-president Paolo Berlusconi described him as “the family's little nigger”.
Berlusconi, the younger brother of the former Italian prime minister Silvio, who is Milan's president, described Balotelli as “negretto di famiglia” at a political meeting in Monza and was filmed by reporters.
The clip, which is being featured on the website of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, shows him saying: “OK, we are all off to see the family's little nigger. He's a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well – you can even have a chance to meet the president [Silvio Berlusconi].”
Outrage in Italy
The comments have caused outrage in Italy, especially after the Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng won plaudits from Silvio Berlusconi for walking off the pitch after being racially abused during a friendly in January.
Paolo Berlusconi was attending a rally for a candidate for his brother's right-wing People of Freedom party when he made the remark.
Italian-born Balotelli joined Milan from Manchester City on transfer deadline day in January and scored twice on his debut against Udinese at the weekend.
Filippo Fossati, National President of UISP, FARE Italian partner, commented, “These comments are not a joke, unfortunately they reflect the wider situation of the way many migrants are seen and treated in Italy.
“We need to recognise migrants as equal citizens, of equal humanity. Many migrants go to schools, live in our towns and cities and play sport in amateur clubs but are not considered Italian, they are seen as foreigners in law even by the sports world.
“We condemn these comments and call for an urgent change to the way in which we see foreigners and change laws that exclude them.”
FARE Executive Director, Piara Powar, said: “These comments offer an insight into how some members of the Italian elite view black people, regardless of their achievements and status.
“Italian football has a problem of racism but it is apparent that Italian society has a long way to travel to come to terms with its growing diversity. Comments such as this both reflect the societal problem and show how football magnifies discrimination and exclusion.”