Mario Balotelli was given a three match ban after he argued with the officials at the climax of AC Milan's 2-1 defeat at the San Siro to Napoli, who currently sit two points behind Serie A leaders Roma.

Balotelli is well know for his moments of indiscipline with well documented clashes between himself a Jose Mourinho during his time at Inter Milan and had a fiery relationship with Manchester City's former boss Roberto Mancini.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Balotelli appealed for referees to protect him from defenders as well as declaring he will change his ways.

"I'm sorry, particularly for my team-mates, who I have abandoned," Balotelli said.

"I've created a mess and it was not necessary.

"I should not have said certain things, but there is one thing that I don't get: if Mario commits a bad foul, Mario has to be punished, and if somebody else commits a bad foul on Mario, then he should also be punished."

The former Manchester City striker will miss Milan's trip to defending champions Juventus next weekend, as his automatic one-game suspension was added to a two-game ban for insulting the officials.

The 23-year-old also apologised to Italy coach Cesare Prandelli for the incident and feels he is targeted in Italian football.

"It's not like this in Europe," Balotelli said. "Red cards are red cards for everybody, like yellows. It's the same for everybody.

"I made a mistake and lost control of myself, let's say because I was provoked many times, and Mario apologises, but let's not get carried away - I don't need to apologise to everybody because it's not like I killed anybody.

"I know playing football means taking knocks, but I don't want to finish my career when I'm 28. There is no equality of judgement here. But I know that I have to be stronger myself too; more cool. Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo get mad when they are hit, I can assure you.

"But I realise that if I want to reach the very top, I've got to resist certain situations."

Balotelli also missed the first penalty of his career during the defeat at the hands of Napoli.

"I think somebody up there was distracted on Sunday," said Balotelli.

"I had five shots, but it just wouldn't go in. It was the same with the national team. It's an unlucky period. Sooner or later, missing a penalty had to happen. I just lost concentration and the keeper did well, but I only kept my eyes on him for a certain time, then I put my head down and shot, and it went badly."

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