• Serie A

'Mario Balotelli is good at making himself disliked'

ESPN staff
August 23, 2013
Mario Balotelli has been the subject of racial abuse in the past © PA Photos

The mayor of Verona has advised Mario Balotelli to keep himself to himself in Saturday's Serie A opener between Hellas and AC Milan.

Balotelli has told Sports Illustrated he will respond to any racial discrimination from the home fans in a professional way - with goals - but Flavio Tosi, the city's mayor, says Balotelli could play his own part in preventing any unsavoury elements from ruining his club's return to the top flight.

"If only Balotelli would be less provocative, it would be better for everybody," Tosi told Radio Sportiva. "There are lots of black players around and those who don't draw the fans' anger towards them never have problems. Balotelli is good at making himself disliked."

Fans of Hellas have gained a reputation in the past for being discriminatory and Saturday's game is at high risk of disturbances, but Tosi says his club are doing all they can to stamp out what he says is a "minority" of trouble causers.

"Our club have always worked hard on improving the conduct of our fans, beyond those three or four idiots" he said. "If somebody misbehaves, then they would be in a minority"

Instead, Tosi, a declared Hellas fan, hopes football will earn all of the headlines in Saturday evening's Serie A clash at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.

"We have suffered for 11 years to get back into Serie A and to return against one of the biggest clubs gives it an even sweeter taste," he said. "Milan lost two titles in Verona and it is a game which everybody has strong feelings about. There's antagonism and two big groups of fans with a history."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd