It was always predictable that Mario Balotelli’s return to Inter Milan was never going to be a sweet one, but one never predicted the amount of racist abuse the Italian striker would receive by the same set of fans who adored him dearly earlier on in his career.
Previously at Inter and now at AC, Balotelli was always going to receive some stick for joining his former club's bitter rivals, but everyone knows that 'Super Mario' has always been an AC Milan supporter, prompting disgusting banners amongst other abusive props. Balotelli kept his cool however, and reacted calmly.
This is not the first time an AC Milan player has been the victim of racist taunts - earlier in the year Kevin-Prince Boateng kicked the ball into the stands after Lega Pro 2 side Pro Patria started racist chanting towards him, prompting Boateng and his teammates to walk off the pitch in protest.
The game was ultimately abandoned, but on this occasion there was no walkout, especially in a match of this magnitude.
The AC Milan forward, who was born in Italy but is of Ghanaian descent, missed a number of presentable chances, most notably his header which was saved spectacularly by Inter Milan goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic.
Various Italian newspapers have shown the pictures of some of the fans who displayed clear racism, with the majority of fans simply barking a series of racial taunts and whistling towards their former striker, facing his former employers for the first time since leaving for Manchester City in 2010.
At Inter Milan, he helped his club to the treble in his final season before moving on to Manchester City - he currently has four goals to his name in AC Milan colours.
One Inter fan was also pictured waving a large inflatable banana in the San Siro, whilst the banners caught on camera translate to: "You have thrown away our shirt. The ungrateful and infamous Balotelli will always be insulted by us."
A second banner along the same lines read: "The shirt that gave you fame is not to be thrown away. It must be respected."
Whilst some claim Balotelli was caught holding his groin in the direction of the Inter Milan fans, AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was quick to praise Balotelli's performance as well as his choice not to react in an indecent way, as he only responded by holding a finger to his mouth midway through the second half.
Speaking after the game, Allegri said: "Balotelli did very well not to react to the provocations, I’m just sorry he wasn’t able to score.
“He had a great first half. Let’s not forget that he’s 22-years-old and he was playing against his former squad. It’s to be expected that he felt pressure for this match.”
The Milan derby ended 1-1, as Stephan El Shaaraway’s goal for AC Milan was cancelled out by substitute Ezequiel Scheletto, who scored his first for the club in the process.
Sadly, the match will not be remembered for its football, but instead for the unacceptable racism.
The AC Milan fans should be proud of Balotelli who remained dignified and showed signs of maturity, as he could have reacted much worse.
Serie A officials will meet to consider sanctioning Inter Milan, but no decision has been made public as yet.
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