In Brief

Balotelli abused by racist Italy fans, and has his say on Toure

Former City striker targeted at Italian World Cup training camp in Florence

Mario Balotelli was racially abused by a group of teenagers as he prepared for next month's World Cup at Italy's training camp near Florence. According to reports the AC Milan striker was targeted by the racists as he warmed up at the Coverciano training ground. It's not the first time Balotelli has been abused in such a manner since his return to Italy from Manchester City in January 2013, and his reaction to the latest incident was a weary sigh of "unbelievable". He also allegedly told teammates that "only in Rome and Florence are they that stupid".

Balotelli's Italy team-mate, Ciro Immobile, was more forthcoming in his condemnation of the racist abuse, blasting: "In 2014, we shouldn't have to deal with racism. We have to improve as a nation... I'm not ashamed of being Italian, but I do get upset by this type of behaviour." Immobile then praised Balotelli for being "very calm" in the face of the bigotry, adding: "We will try to make appeals so these episodes do not happen again."

According to reports police arrived and broke up the group of teenagers and Dario Nardella, the mayor of Florence, was quick to add his voice to the chorus of condemnation, telling reporters: "They were unacceptable insults hurled at Balotelli. It is even more serious as it came from a young fan. Florence is against racism and promotes respect, education and culture."

Meanwhile Balotelli has had his say in the Yaya Toure 'Birthdaygate' saga. As we reported on Wednesday, the Manchester City midfielder is close to quitting to the Etihad on account of the club forgetting his birthday, but Balotelli can't see what the problem is. "Yaya should not consider leaving," the Italian striker told Football Direct News. "He needs to ask himself if he will get that level of love and respect anywhere else. He is on a great contract at a great club - he should think carefully before he leaves."

His comments could be considered revealing as Balotelli is rumoured to be close to the exit at AC Milan, the club he joined after quitting City in January 2013. His warm words about his former club suggest that he regrets turning his back on the Etihad. 

Balotelli had a run-in with Toure during his time at City and when asked if he had popped a card in the post to his former teammate, he sheepishly revealed: "I didn't actually remember it was his birthday - but if I see him in Brazil I will make sure I give him my congratulations."

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