Balotelli threatens to walk off after racist abuse by Verona fans

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Mario Balotelli almost walked off the pitch during Brescia's Serie A visit to Hellas Verona on Sunday after being subjected to racial abuse.

The 29-year-old kicked the ball into the stands and started to walk off during the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the issue.

After appeals from his team-mates and Verona players, Balotelli decided to stay on the pitch and see out the game.

Chants of support for Balotelli from large parts of the crowd were heard after the incident.

The former Manchester City and AC Milan striker, who has historically had a fractious relationship with Hellas Verona supporters, went on to score a stunning 25-yard strike in the 85th minute.

Verona president Maurizio Setti insists he did not hear any of the abuse, and he rejects accusations that Verona supporters are racist.

"We did not hear anything," Setti told reporters. "I arrived in Verona eight years ago and immediately saw that the Verona fans are ironic, but absolutely not racist.

"When Balotelli made his debut here for AC Milan six years ago there were episodes of racism, and we condemned it. We have always done.

"It is wrong to generalise and speak for all 20,000 fans when a couple of people have said something. If there are two or three people who have said something, we are ready to take action against them because we condemn any episode of this type.

"But to speak of Verona as we were 30 years ago is wrong. We are a club that only has sport in our real DNA. There are many players of colour who wear the Gialloblu from the youth team to the first.

"Racism is a path that doesn't exist for us and Verona is not a correct position for generalisations. In eight years of my presidency, you could confirm this. The attitude of our fans is absolutely correct."

Verona coach Ivan Juric shares Setti's view, earlier telling Sky Sport Italia: "I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing.

"There was a lot of booing and teasing of a great player, but there was nothing really racist today."

Source Omnisport