Mario Balotelli and other black players must do “twice as much” as their white counterparts to prove themselves in Italy, the player’s agent Mino Raiola has claimed.
Last year, Balotelli admitted he believes the presence of overt racism in his homeland meant that he is the target for more criticism and abuse because of his skin colour.
Speaking to Tuttosport on Thursday, Raiola agreed with his client, and added that Italy is a country “not ready” to have a player like Balotelli.
“People judge Mario too much. He lives in a country that is not ready to have such a strong black player,” Raiola said. “Italy is light-years behind other countries in that aspect.
“There is racism in football. Some of it is unconscious, but black players have to do twice as much as others to prove themselves.”
Balotelli, who is on loan at Milan from Liverpool, hasn’t featured for the Rossoneri since October 27 because of a groin injury. His inactivity didn’t stop Raiola from lobbying for his client to receive a place on Antonio Conte’s Euro 2016 squad.
Said Raiola: “[Italy coach Antonio] Conte should call up Mario because he is the best Italian striker. Enzo Bearzot called up Paolo Rossi in 1982 despite his inactivity and we went on to win the World Cup. I am convinced that Mario will win over Conte with his performances and his goals at Milan.”