Skip to main content

Silvio Berlusconi's brother labels Mario Balotelli 'little black boy'

February 7, 2013 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
Mario Balotelli was mobbed by fans outside a restaurant as he returned home to Italy to complete his $30 million move from AC Milan to Manchester City. Mario Balotelli was mobbed by fans outside a restaurant as he returned home to Italy to complete his $30 million move from AC Milan to Manchester City.
HIDE CAPTION
Home again
Training ground fracas
Balotelli's breakthrough
Testing the Special One
Red mist
'Why always me?'
Super Mario
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mario Balotelli focus of racially charged remarks.
  • Younger brother of former prime minister and team owner Silvio Berlusconi caught on camera saying: "OK, we are all off to see the family's little black boy"
  • Italian football expert and author John Foot says Paulo Berlusconi's words are offensive on several levels.
  • Foot adds that there "hasn't been a debate in Italy about racist language"

(CNN) -- Not for the first time Mario Balotelli, who plays for one of Europe's biggest soccer teams AC Milan, is in the spotlight again.

The Italian international is the focus of racially charged remarks made by Milan vice president Paulo Berlusconi, the younger brother of former prime minister and team owner Silvio Berlusconi.

During a political rally for his brother where he invited the public to an upcoming match, the younger Berlusconi was caught on camera -- the video is now featured on the website of Italian newspaper La Repubblica -- saying: "OK, we are all off to see the family's little black boy.

"He's a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well -- you can even have a chance to meet the president [Silvio Berlusconi]."

Milan declined to comment on the remarks when contacted by CNN, while Balotelli's representatives have yet to respond to phone and email messages.

Juventus midfielder: Stop racism
Mourinho on the enigma of Balotelli
Exclusive: Boateng on racist abuse
Boateng: We can't ignore racism

Italy national team striker Balotelli joined Milan last week after a two-and-a-half-year stint with English champions Manchester City, during which time he attracted media attention for his off-field antics and ill discipline on the pitch.

The incident involving Berlusconi's brother comes one month after another racial incident involving a black AC Milan player.

AC's German-born Ghanaian international midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the pitch after being subjected to racist chanting during a friendly match with fourth division team Pro Patria.

Read: Last chance saloon for Balotelli

Silvio Berlusconi, as well as world football head Sepp Blatter, backed Boateng for taking a strong stance against prejudicial abuse, though the FIFA president noted that walk-offs are not a long-term solution to the problem.

Offensive

Italian football expert and author John Foot explained how Paulo Berlusconi's words were offensive on several levels.

"It is an insult," Foot told CNN. "It's not n***** translated, but it would translate as 'little negro' or 'little family negro'. A lot of Italians wouldn't necessarily see it as racist, but that doesn't mean it isn't.

"I'm sure Balotelli would see it as an insult. Even if you take the racial element out of it, it is quite insulting. The idea that they own this person has a lot of other connotations."

Balotelli played for AC's city rivals Inter Milan between 2006 and 2010, during which time he was subjected to racist abuse by Juventus fans during a match in 2009.

Foot thinks how Balotelli responds should such an incident occur again in the future could shape how Italian football tackles racism.

"When the first racist chants appear in a game he is playing in, are the players going to walk off?" Foot asked. "That is going to be a key moment. I think it will happen.

"It has entered into the football stadiums in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some things have been done, but generally there is not a zero tolerance approach towards it.

"It's not just individuals. In Italy it could be a large part of the hardcore fans doing it, therefore it is a lot harder to deal with.

"I think the Boateng incident was really positive because it put the issue on the agenda and said, 'We're not going to take this anymore' and he was backed by the authorities which was really good.

"Let's see if they put their money where their mouth is and walk off during a Serie A game which is on television. If they do, I think it will have an impact."

Read: Boateng makes racism walkout vow

When the deal -- worth around $31 million -- to bring Balotelli to AC was announced last week, La Stampa estimated the signing of "Super Mario" could be worth 400,000 votes in Silvio Berlusconi's bid for re-election in Italy later this month.

While the incident could damage Berlusconi's image abroad, Foot doubted it would affect his popularity in Italy.

"His reputation abroad is pretty appalling anyway," added Foot. "There hasn't been a debate in Italy about racist language. For a long time they used to use words to describe immigrants which were absolutely racist.

"It is something I don't think will have an impact on Berlusconi domestically."

The word "negro" was the subject of a racism storm in England in 2011, when Patrice Evra of Manchester United claimed he had repeatedly been called the word by Liverpool's Luis Suarez.

The accusations sparked a debate over cultural differences over the word's meaning.

Watch: Israeli football club faces fan backlash

Some claimed it was a term of endearment used in Uruguay, however Suarez was handed an eight-match ban and a £40,000 ($63,000) fine by England's football association.

Kwadwo Asamoah is a Ghana international who plays for AC's Serie A rivals Juventus.

Meanwhile, speaking from the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, where Ghana play Burkina Faso in Wednesday's semifinal, Kwadwo Asamoah, who plays for Milan's Serie A rivals Juventus, called for an end to racist abuse in football.

"Football is about coming together," the 24-year-old Ghana international told CNN. "When it comes to something like this it makes you feel like you're not a human being.

"What I would say is please stop this racism because we are all one, we are all human beings. Football is about fun and bringing people together."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT