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Ultras leader banned from Hellas Verona games for 10 years after Balotelli racist abuse

17:52 SAST 2019/11/05
Mario Balotelli, Brescia
The Italian nationalist and member of right-wing political group 'Forza Nuova' has been punished for his prejudicial views

Hellas Verona have announced that Luca Castellini, the head of the club's ultras group, has been banned from entering the stadium for more than 10 years after making racist comments towards Italy international Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli was targeted by sections of the Verona fans during their recent clash with Brescia, with the striker having grown tired of racist abuse from the stands and kicking the ball towards those culpable before threatening to walk off of the pitch.

Anti-racism protocol followed, with the match being stopped as an announcement was made over the tannoy calling for the abuse to end as Balotelli was convinced by team-mates to stay on the field and see out the game.

In the wake of the horrendous incident, Castellini gave an interview to Radio Cafe in which he defended the fans by stating: "We have a n***o in our team and he scored and all of Verona applauded."

In addition, he also claimed that “Balotelli is Italian because he has Italian citizenship, but he will never be able to truly be Italian.”

Following his comments, Verona released a statement of their own on Tuesday condemning Castellini and making clear that he would not be permitted inside Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi for over 10 years.

It reads: “Hellas Verona FC announced that it has adopted a disqualification measure against Mr. Luca Castellini which, proportionate to the seriousness of the fact and in light of the provisions of articles six and seven of the Code of Behaviour, corresponds to actions made that are seriously contrary to those that distinguish the ethical principles and values of our club. 

“The suspension of Mr Luca Castellini by Hellas Verona FC will last until June 30, 2030.”

The effect of Castellini's suspension remains to be seen, but the club still have more short-term issues to deal with as they have been hit with a partial stadium closure following the racist chants directed at Balotelli.

A statement from the league's authorities said: “Considering that the number of those taking part in racist chanting – clearly perceived by the player (Balotelli) and a representative of the federal prosecutor's office located nearby – constitutes only part of the occupants who attended the match, the east arm of the stadium will be closed for one match with immediate effect in accordance with Article 28 of the CGS.”