Balotelli reportedly fired by Brescia
A FREQUENT target of racist abuse and often surrounded in controversy, Mario Balotelli’s nomadic career has taken another radical turn.
The former Italy striker was reportedly fired by his hometown club for failing to report to training as the Italian football league prepares to resume from a three-month break amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Local media reported over the weekend that Brescia owner Massimo Cellino had his legal team deliver a dismissal letter to Balotelli to terminate the player’s multiyear contract “for just cause”.
“I thought as the captain of his home city’s team, he would have done more,” Brescia coach Diego Lopez told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “He should have and could have done more. It’s too bad. But everyone controls their own destiny.
“He chose one path and the team has taken a different path,” Lopez added.
While Balotelli reportedly excused himself from training by presenting a doctor’s note saying that he needed to take a week off for stomach troubles, the club had already had enough of him.
NO SHOW FOR PRACTICE
Lopez detailed how Balotelli did not take part in the team’s online training regime during the lockdown and that on the few days when he did show up for practice recently, his physical conditioning was lacking.
“He’s not at the same level as the other players. That’s why he’s been training on his own,” Lopez said.
When Balotelli signed last August with Brescia – the city where he grew up with his adoptive family – it was an emotional homecoming for a player who has jumped back and forth between the Italian, English, and French leagues throughout his career.
“This is my city. I can give so much more here,” he declared then.
But with only five goals in 19 Serie A matches, Balotelli’s stay at Brescia has made more headlines for the racist incidents he has had to endure than his performances.
During a game at Hellas
Verona in November, he grew so frustrated by monkey chants from the home fans that he interrupted play by angrily kicking a ball high into the stands and then threatened to leave the field.
The incident in Verona sparked a nationwide debate over racism in Italy. Still, Balotelli – who is black and was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants – was again targeted by discriminatory chants during a match at Lazio in January.
Last week, Balotelli posted an anti-racism tribute on Instagram following mass protests against police brutality and racism across the United States over the killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, in Minneapolis on May 25.
While neither Brescia nor Balotelli have made any official statements over the striker’s status with the team – and both parties did not respond to requests for comment – the case is likely headed for an arbitration panel and could take weeks to resolve.
In the meantime, it seems almost certain that Balotelli won’t be suiting up when Brescia resume playing on June 22 at Fiorentina.
Udinese’s Rodrigo De Paul (right) and Brescia’s Mario Balotelli vie for the ball during an Italian Serie A match at the Mario Rigamonti stadium in Brescia, Italy, on February 9, 2020.