Monday, 21 November 2011

Balotelli is backed to cope with racist abuse in Italy

Mario Balotelli is being backed to cope with the expected stick heading his way when he returns to Italy.

Striker Balotelli leads the City attack as they hunt a result against Napoli that could secure them a spot in the knock-out stage.

And there are fears he may be knocked out of his stride by the racist abuse that sadly continues to be aimed his way when he plays in his homeland.

Balotelli was targeted by Juventus fans for shameful verbal attacks when City last faced Italian opponents.

But at a time when racism has come under the spotlight, his boss Roberto Mancini insists the young frontman can handle the vile insults.

He said: ``He can cope with it. This won’t be a big problem. Mario has played in Naples many times.

``We haven’t spoken about this because Mario is like me. He knows that this can happen in any moment anywhere and this is life.

``It could happen in the stadium but Mario should be concentrating on the game because it’s an important game

``It has happened before but last season was another time. In every stadium there could be some people like this but I don’t think this will affect him.''

Napoli are on the up again after years in the doldrums. They were once one of Europe's big teams when Diego Maradona led them to a Serie A title and Uefa Cup win in the late 1980's.

But when the big spending stopped, the club fell apart. The warning for City fans enjoying a new life brought for them by Arab money is obvious.

Boss Mancini is insistent the Blues will not fall into the same trap as their Italian rivals though.

He added: ``I played in Naples against Maradona. One year we beat Naples and won the championship against Maradona. At that time Naples was a strong team, one of the strongest in Europe.

``When Maradona went to Naples it was probably the same situation as we have at City, but City could become more important and stronger.

``The problem for Napoli was if you want to be a strong club with good players you have to continue to invest and that is not always possible.

``City is different. City has a good foundation and if you have that you won’t have big problems.”

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