Re­port shows ex­tent of Mario Balotelli racist abuse

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Liver­pool and Italy striker Mario Balotelli has re­ceived more than 4,000 racist mes­sages via so­cial me­dia this sea­son, ac­cord­ing to new re­search from Bri­tish anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion body Kick it Out.

Ar­se­nal striker Danny Wel­beck and Liver­pool’s Daniel Stur­ridge have also been tar­geted with more than a thou­sand dis­crim­i­na­tory mes­sages.

In to­tal, Kick it Out’s re­search es­ti­mates there have been 134,000 dis­crim­i­na­tory posts this sea­son, and 39,000 of th­ese di­rected to­ward Pre­mier League play­ers.

English soc­cer has long prided it­self on its anti-racism poli­cies, con­trast­ing them with what has of­ten been seen as a less en­light­ened ap­proach in other Euro­pean coun­tries where racist chant­ing against black play­ers dur­ing matches — some­thing no longer com­mon­place in Eng­land — still takes place.

How­ever, Kick it Out’s ev­i­dence sug­gests the anonymity of so­cial me­dia is pro­vid­ing a new plat­form for racist abuse of soc­cer play­ers in Eng­land.

Kick It Out direc­tor Roisin Wood told Bri­tain’s Press As­so­ci­a­tion: “It is re­ally shock­ing. We knew there was an is­sue but even we were shocked by how many the play­ers have re­ceived. For one player to have re­ceived over 8,000 abu­sive mes­sages is phe­nom­e­nally aw­ful.

“We don’t see the prob­lem go­ing away. Some of the per­pe­tra­tors are young peo­ple and they need ed­u­cat­ing that you can­not sit in your room and abuse peo­ple like this. It is also an is­sue for the so­cial me­dia plat­forms and how they ad­dress this.”

Balotelli, who has suf­fered racist abuse through­out a ca­reer which started in Italy, was him­self banned for one match and fined 25,000 pounds (US$37,548) in De­cem­ber af­ter be­ing found guilty of breaching Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion rules by post­ing a con­tro­ver­sial im­age of Su­per Mario on Instagram.

He was charged by the FA over an im­age he re­posted on the so­cial me­dia site that con­tained the words “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a jew” un­der­neath a pic­ture of the Nin­tendo games con­sole char­ac­ter.

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