Mario Balotelli.

Mario Balotelli was allegedly booked for a shameful reason during Nice loss

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Mario Balotelli seldom goes without being among the headlines for an extended period.

It’s a pretty remarkable trait given he no longer plies his trade under the permanent spotlight of the Premier League.

Perhaps that’s why the Italian has been such a hit at Nice, where his less convincing performances draw far less attention than those he produced for Manchester City and Liverpool.

But Balotelli has rarely allowed himself to be the subject of criticism in France, such is the goalscoring prowess he has demonstrated in a red and black shirt.

Since the beginning of last season, he has struck 36 goals in 53 appearances for Les Aiglons – just one less than he managed during the four previous campaigns at Liverpool and Milan.

Those disastrous spells are becoming increasingly distant memories with Balotelli capably spearheading the attack of a potential Ligue 1 contender.

Nice secured an impressive third-place league finish in 2016-17, though they’re nowhere near repeating the trick this time around even with the 27-year-old firing on all cylinders.

With 13 matches remaining, the four-time top-flight champions are currently eighth, out of the race for Champions League football and a slim chance of making the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Their hopes took a heavy blow on Saturday, though, courtesy of a 3-2 defeat to Dijon at the Stade Gaston Gerard.


The match came to life late on with all five goals coming in the last half-hour, including an 84th-minute winner from Kwon Chang-hoon to steal three points for the home side.

While Balotelli couldn’t onto the scoresheet, his name was taken in the referee’s notebook to cap off a truly extraordinary incident.

The Italy international gestured to Dijon fans to be quiet after they allegedly reacted to his wayward 72nd minute shot with racist chanting.

Balotelli then complained to referee Nicolas Rainville, only to be shown a yellow card for his actions.

Nice described what happened during their coverage of the match, which roughly translates to: “In the meantime, Mario Balotelli has inherited a yellow card after getting annoyed with racist chants from the public.”

Speaking after the match, club president Jean-Pierre Riviere didn’t comment on the Balotelli incident but had plenty to say about the officiating in general.

"It's been four consecutive games that we have the feeling of playing at 11 against 12," Rivere said, per ESPN.

"The differences of refereeing from one match to the other are incomprehensible.”

The Ligue 1 authorities are already investigating an incident in which Balotelli has accused Bastia fans of making monkey noises during a match.

No action has been taken as yet, but let’s hope this kind of behaviour is stamped out as soon as possible.

Mario Balotelli
Ligue 1

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