Balotelli race storm after Paolo Berlusconi 'negretto' video

AC Milan vice-president sparks outrage after appearing to drop the n-bomb at Italian political rally

LAST UPDATED AT 11:05 ON Wed 6 Feb 2013

MARIO BALOTELLI is at the centre of a racism storm less than a week after returning to Italy thanks to a shocking remark from Silvio Berlusconi's younger brother, Paolo, who is also the vice-president of Balotelli's new club AC Milan.

The 63-year-old was speaking at a rally for his brother's People of Freedom political party near Milan when he announced that he was off to watch Balotelli, and described him as "negretto di famiglia" - which translates as "the family's little n*****".

He also told the audience that Balotelli was a "crazy head" and, just to prove he is cut from the same cloth as his famously lecherous brother, invited "all the young ladies" to join him at the football where there was a chance they could meet Silvio.

A video of his comments was posted on the Italian newspaper La Repubblica's website and immediately prompted anger from fans on Italian sports websites and message boards.

"It has already caused outrage in Italy," said the Daily Telegraph. "Especially after Milan's midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng won plaudits from Berlusconi senior for walking off the pitch after being racially abused during a friendly last month."

After that incident during a friendly match the Milan side were lauded for taking a stance against racism and wore shirts with anti-racism slogans on them before their next match. Berlusconi announced that he had "thanked and congratulated" the players and called racism "an uncivilised problem that needs to be stopped".

However, there are also echoes of the Luis Suarez race controversy that blew up last season. Liverpool's Uruguayan striker was banned for eight games after calling Man United defender Patrice Evea "negrito" last season, the equivalent Spanish word to the Italian one used by Berlusconi.

Suarez admitted using the word but insisted that it was not derogatory in his homeland, and some have defended Berlusconi using a similar argument, claiming it has affectionate rather than racist overtones.

It is unclear what Balotelli makes of the row, but his views on racism are well documented. The striker, who has suffered abuse in the past, said before Euro 2012 that if he was racially abused he would walk off the pitch. "If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to prison because I will kill him," he declared.

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Lived in Italy for ten years. Loved it but sadly it is the norm for Joe Public to use offensive terms like negretto. They don't see anything wrong with it. I often had to inform my students that making slitty eyed gestures when talking about asian people was racist. They disagreed. One out of 3 people out there is Alf Garnett. We shouldn't be surprised that this came from somebody as foul as one of the Berlusconi brothers. They represent the thickest end of the Italian populace and speak their language. Anything goes over there

From my esperience with Italians ( mainly in West Africa, where numbers of them now reside) they are crude and unsophisticated, not to mention corrupt. No one should be surprised or even angry at the comments made by Berlusconni, he is typical of who they are.

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