Mario Balotelli was racially abused yet again, this time by spectators at a training session for the Italian national team.According to the Italian football association (the FIGC), "Some boys surrounding the field made some offensive chants towards Mario Balotelli and one of them pronounced a racial insult." Police reacted quickly and escorted that one person away.
The slur can be heard clearly in the video above, but Balotelli stayed focused on his training. The AP reports that the Milan striker said, "Only in Rome and Florence are they that stupid" as he ran by. In the past, the notoriously quick tempered 23-year-old might have reacted to the provocation in a way that would only hurt himself, but instead he let the police handle it and after the training session he even stopped to sign autographs for the fans that supported him.
As Italy prepare for the World Cup, this was a better sign for both the team and Balotelli's development than any goal he could have scored or hot weather training he could have completed. A Mario Balotelli who is in control and capable of overcoming negativity will be vital within the intense pressure that Brazil will present next month. He has previously threatened to walk off if subjected to racism and to kill anyone who throws a banana at him. But when someone threw banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during a match in April and he responded by eating it to launch the "We are all monkeys" campaign, Balotelli joined in rather than reacting with more threats of violence.
Perhaps Alves' response and the ensuing campaign helped Balotelli realize that he's not alone in this fight and that it's more productive to rise above these ugly attacks rather than to help them cause the desired harm. Of course, that's not to say that Balotelli or anyone else should ever accept such vile abuse, but Mario's success and focus will be far more productive than letting anger get the best of him.