Balotelli re­port­edly fired by Bres­cia

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

ROME (AP):

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.

AP

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.

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