Proving once again that bigots are nothing if not persistent, Mario Balotelli has once again been forced to deal with racist abuse on the pitch.
The latest incident came during Nice’s Ligue 1 clash with Bastia on Friday. After the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, Balotelli made reference to racist abuse in an Instagram post.
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The text from his post reads:
”Yesterday the result against Bastia was right.. we will work more and try to get our objective.. the referee was good too but I have a question for French people. Is it normal that Bastia supporters make monkey noise end “uh uh” for the whole game and no one of the “commissions discipline ” say nothing? So is racism LEGAL in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport .. those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible ! VERGOGNA DAVVERO. UNE VRAIE HONTE .”
Over the weekend, Nice midfielder Alassane Plea corroborated his teammate’s account. “We heard monkey noises in the warm-up and during the game,” Plea told reporters. “A few supporters insulted him the whole game. Balotelli was very, very upset.”
Bastia released a statement expressing shock, shock they tell us, to find that there’s gambling in this establishment.
”Having never noticed nor been informed, either by the referees, the delegates or any member of Nice of any incident of this type, it is with surprise that our club discovered these accusations, which carry considerable harm to the image of our club as a whole.”
Bastia also noted in their statement that they would cooperate with a pending investigation by the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the governing body for football in France.
What’s perhaps most frustrating is that this is all old hat and predictable. Balotelli has been subjected to racist abuse from fans for most of his career, both at the club level and, especially, on international duty. In 2013 the abuse got so out of hand that Balotelli threatened to walk off the pitch if it continued.
Every time this happens there are official condemnations, inquiries, and occasionally fines levied against clubs and/or sanctions against individual fans. Sometimes there are gestures of solidarity— t-shirts worn during training or pre-kickoff ceremonies— or partnerships with initiatives like Kick It Out. But nothing ever substantially changes. At worst, Bastia will pay a fine and condemn racism without dealing with their own supporters. Balotelli will probably get a gentle talking-to about the proper use of social media. Everyone else will forget about this and move on with their lives.
Until the next time this happens.