Europe : Mario Balotelli’s agent has blasted Michel Platini for what he perceives to be a weak stance on racist after the Italian striker was subjected to racist chants from a minority of Spanish supporters during Italy’s 1-1 draw with the European and world champions on Sunday, the latest in a string of incidents to have marred Euro 2012 so far.
Mino Raiola has now hit out at UEFA president Platini for failing to back his client after the Italy striker suggested he would walk off the pitch if he heard racist chanting. Platini has stated that players should be booked if they did so, and Raiola has stated he is disappointed in the Frenchman for his comments.
"I have to say that the reaction of UEFA to what Mario said was very strange and I would have expected a different reaction," Raiola told reporters.
"Mario has had this problem before and in Italy we have a saying: Racism is ignorance.”
"Mario is the kind of lad where this kind of abuse glides off his back but I was very disappointed with what Michel Platini said and a lot of people are with me on that. I can`t say I`m surprised by the reaction, though.”
"I don`t believe Platini has done anything to improve the game or help the position of players — as his reaction to Mario shows.”
"I have had meetings with the (English) FA and they`ve been very proactive. They are ahead of other countries in Europe."
The Italian Football Federation said that Balotelli had not been aware of the chanting during the match on Sunday. It is believed a group of pitch-side photographers had heard the offenders from the Spain crowd.
After the match, a Spanish supporters` group confirmed that around 200 supporters had been heard directing monkey chants at the Manchester City forward.
Their spokesman Thomas Herzog said: "The majority of the Spanish supporters reacted in a very positive way, because many of them tried to intervene and stop the fans from singing. We are clearly angry about this small section of Spanish supporters showing this kind of racist behaviour."
The issue of racism has been prevalent throughout the build-up to and opening fixtures of the championships, with many players fearful of suffering abuse in Poland and Ukraine.
Following the problems on Sunday, as well as the incident last week when some Netherlands players were subjected to racist chants during an open training session in Krakow, UEFA has asked the mayors of all host towns and cities to step up police activity in a bid to crack down on the problem.
They said in a statement: "UEFA ask that all necessary measures — including an increased police presence — be implemented to prevent any display of racist or discriminatory behaviour at such public sessions.”
"UEFA have also requested that any person found to be engaging in racist behaviour be immediately ejected and that criminal proceedings be launched."
First Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 14:21