sport

Mario abuse may spark sanctions

The Lega Serie A will meet on Tuesday to consider sanctioning Inter Milan after fans reportedly directed racial abuse at Mario Balotelli.

In Sunday's derby, former Inter striker Balotelli was facing his old club for the first time since joining AC Milan in January, with Ezequiel Schelotto's second-half goal earning the Nerazzurri a 1-1 draw after Stephan El Shaarawy opened the scoring before the break.

Balotelli, who missed several good chances on goal, was always likely to be the target of abuse for the Inter fans but reports in the Italian media suggest a section of supporters may have targeted him for his skin colour during Sunday night's game.

A Lega Serie A spokeswoman said that the disciplinary council would rule on the events of the match at the San Siro among others from the weekend's fixture list in a meeting held in Milan on Tuesday afternoon.

The Gazzetta dello Sport also reported that inflatable bananas were waved at Balotelli by several Inter supporters during the match and, in the second half, Balotelli was seen to raise his finger to his lips in an apparent bid to silence his detractors.

If fans are adjudged to have directed discriminatory or racist language at Balotelli then Inter face a fine of at least 15,000 euros (12,300). The club were fined that amount when Inter fans chanted racist songs about the striker during a recent league game against Chievo.

Inter president Massimo Moratti apologised afterwards while expressing his hope there would be no repeat in the derby.

That marked the second time that Balotelli had been the victim of racism without being present since he returned to Italy from Manchester City.

The first saw AC Milan vice-president Paolo Berlusconi - the younger brother of club owner Silvio - filmed at a political meeting in Monza near Milan describing Balotelli as "negretto della famiglia" - translated as "the family's little n****".

That led to accusations of hypocrisy at the Rossoneri just four weeks after Silvio Berlusconi praised midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng for walking off the pitch after he was racially abused during a friendly against Pro Patria.

Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola later revealed his client had been carrying a high fever and did well to complete the 90 minutes, regardless of any ill treatment from the Inter fans.

Quoted on Gazzetta.it, he told radio station GrParlamento: "It was an important game but he treated it like any other. He had a temperature of 38 degrees but still played well, especially in the first half.

"He didn't score but everything else went well. He was really relaxed and calm.

"Because of the fever he was perhaps lacking about two per cent of his usual freshness and Handanovic pulled off two or three miracle saves against him.

"What mark would I give him out of 10? If he'd scored then 10 but for what I saw and for how he prepared for the game, with the level of concentration he maintained - for me it was a nine."