Mario Balotelli has always been tied with controversies, as the former Internazionale man seems to constantly find a way to steal the headlines with his antics.
However, he's gone from villain to victim lately, as he's been once again affected by racial slurs and jeers now that he's come back to his homeland to play for Brescia.
To make things even worse, Massimo Cellino, Brescia's president, seemed to choose his words very poorly when referring to an incident Balotelli had in practice with coach Fabio Grosso, claiming he needed to 'lighten up':
“What do you want me to say about him. He's black. He's working to lighten up but he's having difficulty. We can't think that one player alone will save the squad. That would be wrong for the team," Cellino allegedly said.
Needless to say, those comments weren't ignored by most people and the underfire executive was forced to release a statement claiming it was nothing but a misunderstood joke:
“Regarding the quotes released this afternoon by President Massimo Cellino, referring to our player Mario Balotelli, Brescia clarify that they were a paradoxical joke, clearly misunderstood, released in the attempt to defuse excessive media exposure and to protect the player," the statement read.
The timing was terrible for those comments, as Balotelli had just suffered racist abuse by Hellas Verona supporters, but, according to Cellino, he was referring to the fact that 'Super Mario' wasn't trying hard enough in training:
“I demand great intensity and a high tempo in my training sessions. When that doesn't happen, I prefer to change and make the session tougher. He didn't do that and was set to one side. At a certain point, he has to help himself," Cellino claimed, as quoted by Goal.
Racism has no part in sports but, sadly, black players in Italy continue to be racially abused by fans and rivals just because of the color of their skin. So no, Cellino, this isn't funny at all.