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Romania and Italy played each other on Wednesday. But the 1-1 draw was overshadowed by the racist abuse of Mario Balotelli, who was repeatedly booed by a group of about 100 extreme right-wing Italian fans.

 

Before the match in Klagenfurt, Austria, a banner with the message 'No to a multi-ethnic national team’ was already confiscated.

 

Mario Balotelli is an Italian international of Ghanian descent. He was born in Italy and has never been to Africa, his sister Christina once explained. The 20-year old is one of Italy’s biggest talents, but he had suffered from racist abuse before. Last summer he left Internazionale and signed for Manchester City.

 

‘I feel disappointment and anger’, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli fumed after the match. ‘We always hear these chants and something has to be done about it. We feel helpless. But the lad must know that everyone has affection for him. I would like to see some sort of positive gesture towards him, maybe someone needs to give him a hug.’

 

Balotelli himself said: ‘We need to change these people but it's not me that has to do it. Where I live, the people don't reason like these people. A multi-ethnic Italy already exists and we can do better.’

 

FIFPro strongly supports Balotelli and condemns racism. FIFPro Division Europe board member Tony Higgins remarked: 'It is sad that in the 21st century, players still have too endure racist behaviour of this nature. We are in full support of Mario Balotelli and the comments he made.’

 

‘FIFPro along with it's partner 'Show Racism the Red Card' will continue its campaign to rid football of this moronic element. Players are workers and like any other worker in Europe they are entitled to carry out their profession in an atmosphere free from racist or any other form of intimidation.'