Brescia label president Massimo Cellino's 'black' comment about Mario Balotelli 'a misunderstood joke'

Brescia Calcio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A

Brescia have dismissed controversial comments made by their president Massimo Cellino about Mario Balotelli as a joke.

Balotelli has suffered racist abuse in Italy this season. Three weeks ago he was abused by Hellas Verona fans and reacted by booting the ball into the crowd in protest.

It’s also been reported that the former Manchester City and Liverpool striker stormed out of a training session last week following an argument with Brescia manager Fabio Grosso.

It prompted Cellino to be asked what’s wrong with Balotelli, to which he replied: “What can I tell you? He's black and he is working on clearing himself.”

Brescia have since released a statement claiming Cellino’s comments have been misunderstood and that he was trying to protect Balotelli by defusing the attention surrounding him.

Their statement read: “Concerning the declarations released this afternoon by president Massimo Cellino, referring to our player Mario Balotelli, Brescia evidently deem it to be a paradoxical joke and clearly misunderstood.

“It was said in an attempt to defuse excessive media exposure, as well as with the intent to protect the player himself.”

Brescia Calcio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A

Balotelli hasn’t received much support from Brescia this season.

He was criticised by his own fans after being racially abused by Hellas Verona supporters, even being labelled "arrogant" in a stunning statement from Brescia ultras.

“If Balotelli was not ready psychologically to face the Verona fanbase and, above all, such a delicate match in which our city and our coach - among the most beloved figures - was taking his final chance at saving his job, then he should’ve said so and left his place to someone less… irritable than him," a statement from Brescia ultras read, per football-italia.

"None of us would’ve been upset if he had, quite the contrary…

“The personal declarations of one of the leaders of the Verona Curva cannot justify the witch-hunt sparked by the media and institutions in yet another attempt to criminalise and destroy the entire Ultras world.

“This does not mean that certain chants are legitimate or acceptable, but nor are all Verona fans racists and the Verona Curva some sort of KKK coven.

“Entire fanbases cannot be considered racist, but racism does exist and it is often used to create mass panic in public opinion.

“This unconventional language is used more and more by public and political figures, but of course nobody would think of banning them because of some code of ethics. 

“We have absolutely no doubts that Balotelli is to all intents Italian, and even a Bresciano, but the arrogance that he continually gives off is unjustifiable.

"'The notorious 'Balotellate' antics are now all too well known. 

Hellas Verona v Brescia Calcio - Serie A

"What matters more to us are the spirit of sacrifice, passion respect, motivation and sweating for the shirt, concepts that seem to be entirely unknown to him.

“We condemn any gesture or provocation that is clearly hostile and discriminatory, but, we also want to give our solidarity to those who once again saw their liberty destroyed.

“This time it wasn't even by the authorities, who considered his behaviour not that serious, but by his own club.”

Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku has also been the victim of vile racist abuse this season.

It’s been an awful year for racism in Italy.

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