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
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.