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Italy coach backs Balotelli over 'drug deal' claim

ESPN staff
May 31, 2013
Mario Balotelli had a turbulent two-and-a-half seasons at Manchester City © PA Photos

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has defended former Manchester City star Mario Balotelli after his name was brought up by a witness at a Camorra mafia trial.

A witness at the drugs trial claimed the striker, now at AC Milan, had witnessed drug deals being done in the Scampia area of Naples and had said he wanted to be involved in one "as a joke".

Denying the claim on his verified Twitter account, Balotelli posted: "Ha, now I sell drugs! Shame, do not use my name for an audience." The post has since been deleted.

Speaking at a press conference that had already been called to discuss Friday's friendly against San Marino, Prandelli was asked about what had been said.

He told reporters that "Mario has responded - there's nothing else to say", but added: "It is a topic that does not interest me at all. When he wants to talk to you, he will tell you what he thinks.

"Considering this topic is sensitive, there are serious matters, and here we are talking about a joke. These are serious issues and it is unclear if these are allegations or otherwise. For us, what applies is what Mario has said."

Prandelli added that Balotelli could face San Marino in Friday's friendly, explaining: "Mario has trained well, and I think that he may be available."

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