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    Mario Balotelli: Italy boss Roberto Mancini says call-up will be on merit, not skin colour

    Mancini: "Maybe there will be other opportunities to call him up, but it will be because he will deserve it, technically speaking."

    Last Updated: 11/11/19 7:03pm
    Mario Balotelli has not played for Italy since a Nations League game against Poland last year
    Mario Balotelli has not played for Italy since a Nations League game against Poland last year
    Italy boss Roberto Mancini says he will call up Brescia striker Mario Balotelli on merit, and not to send out a message against racism.
    The former Liverpool and Manchester City striker kicked the ball towards opposition fans who targeted him with racist abuse during Brescia's Serie A game at Veronaearlier this month.
    Balotelli later thanked team-mates and fans for their solidarity, although Brescia fans released a statement labelling him as "arrogant" in the incident which led to the head of a Verona supporters' group being handed an 11-year stadium ban for racist comments about the Brescia forward.

    Balotelli reacted to racist behaviour from Verona fans during a Serie A game and threatened to walk off the pitch
    Balotelli reacted to racist behaviour from Verona fans during a Serie A game and threatened to walk off the pitch
    Last week, Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina said he would like to see Balotelli back in the national team as "the picture of Mario together with all his team-mates would be very nice to see", but Mancini, who coached the striker at Inter and Manchester City, says he is still not worthy of a call-up.
    "Football and sport in general have to unite people, and not destroy all the good things that have been done, for a handful of people that regrettably make these mistakes," said Mancini on Monday.
    "Mario is a player I have affection for because I played him when he was a kid, he still is in a good age to do a lot of things, but for me it's important that if he does earn a recall, it's because he is performing well and he can be useful to the team.
    Balotelli has scored two goals for Brescia in Serie A this season
    Balotelli has scored two goals for Brescia in Serie A this season
    "Then, it's clear that in moments like that [the racism incident], people like the President [of the Italian FA] can think that he can get a call-up because… [they want to send a message], but you have to understand the real reasons behind it.
    "Maybe there will be other opportunities to call him up, but it will be because he will deserve it, technically speaking. This is the most important thing. It's clear that [the racism incident] is a different situation, but it seems to me that people have a hard time understanding these things. We're almost in 2020, and we still argue about skin colour."
    Balotelli made his return to the Italy national team in May 2018, scoring in a 2-1 friendly win against Saudi Arabia in Mancini's first game in charge, but has not made an appearance since a Nations League game against Poland the following September.

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  • Mario Balotelli: Italy boss Roberto Mancini says call-up will be on merit, not skin colour

    Mancini: "Maybe there will be other opportunities to call him up, but it will be because he will deserve it, technically speaking."

    Last Updated: 11/11/19 7:03pm
    Mario Balotelli has not played for Italy since a Nations League game against Poland last year
    Mario Balotelli has not played for Italy since a Nations League game against Poland last year
    Italy boss Roberto Mancini says he will call up Brescia striker Mario Balotelli on merit, and not to send out a message against racism.
    The former Liverpool and Manchester City striker kicked the ball towards opposition fans who targeted him with racist abuse during Brescia's Serie A game at Veronaearlier this month.
    Balotelli later thanked team-mates and fans for their solidarity, although Brescia fans released a statement labelling him as "arrogant" in the incident which led to the head of a Verona supporters' group being handed an 11-year stadium ban for racist comments about the Brescia forward.

    Balotelli reacted to racist behaviour from Verona fans during a Serie A game and threatened to walk off the pitch
    Balotelli reacted to racist behaviour from Verona fans during a Serie A game and threatened to walk off the pitch
    Last week, Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina said he would like to see Balotelli back in the national team as "the picture of Mario together with all his team-mates would be very nice to see", but Mancini, who coached the striker at Inter and Manchester City, says he is still not worthy of a call-up.
    "Football and sport in general have to unite people, and not destroy all the good things that have been done, for a handful of people that regrettably make these mistakes," said Mancini on Monday.
    "Mario is a player I have affection for because I played him when he was a kid, he still is in a good age to do a lot of things, but for me it's important that if he does earn a recall, it's because he is performing well and he can be useful to the team.
    Balotelli has scored two goals for Brescia in Serie A this season
    Balotelli has scored two goals for Brescia in Serie A this season
    "Then, it's clear that in moments like that [the racism incident], people like the President [of the Italian FA] can think that he can get a call-up because… [they want to send a message], but you have to understand the real reasons behind it.
    "Maybe there will be other opportunities to call him up, but it will be because he will deserve it, technically speaking. This is the most important thing. It's clear that [the racism incident] is a different situation, but it seems to me that people have a hard time understanding these things. We're almost in 2020, and we still argue about skin colour."
    Balotelli made his return to the Italy national team in May 2018, scoring in a 2-1 friendly win against Saudi Arabia in Mancini's first game in charge, but has not made an appearance since a Nations League game against Poland the following September.

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