'Balotelli should be protected by referees, not given yellow card'

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Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli “should be be given added protection by referees” rather than being booked for complaining about alleged racist chants, says anti-discriminatory body Fare.

Nice striker Balotelli was given a yellow card[1] by referee Nicolas Rainville after protesting to him about fans in his side’s 3-2 defeat at Dijon.

“The French league is one of the most diverse in Europe and so one would expect referees to understand and act seriously after players complain about racism,” said Fare.

The LFP, which oversees the top two leagues in French football, is investigating the incident, according to French newspaper L’Equipe.[2]

The BBC has contacted the LFP for a response.

Italy forward Balotelli, 27, who has played for Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and Liverpool, was unhappy with the reaction from the home fans when he missed a shot in the 72nd minute, gesturing to the Dijon supporters to be quiet.

“Mario Balotelli should be be given added protection by referees and stadium officials, not a yellow card when he brings it to the attention of a referee,” said Football Against Racism in Europe,[3] which is an international organisation with more than 150 members in nearly 40 European countries.

“We are in touch with the French FA and are due to meet members of their senior administration next week.

“What is clear is that racism and other forms if discrimination continue to be a big issue in football across Europe. Progress in some countries is slow.

“The need for strong action and vigilance by every football association is paramount.”

Kick It Out,[4] which deals with discrimination in English football, said it was “shocked” at Balotelli’s booking.

“It is unacceptable and wrong to see that once again a match official has failed to apply the Uefa protocol – in place for a number of years – which requires action to be taken to stop the game to deal with the offending abuse,” it added.

“The organisation expects a strong response from the French football authorities in condemning both the alleged racist chanting from Dijon supporters and the failure of the referee to follow protocol to halt the behaviour, as well as the decision to compound Balotelli’s experience as a victim by booking him for merely asking the match official to do his job.”

BBC Sport – Football