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Balotelli's Italy call-up will be on merit: Mancini

AFP/Rome
Filed on November 11, 2019
Mario Balotelli (right)

The 29-year-old missed out on a return to the international fold for the first time in a year when Mancini named his squad last Friday

Italy coach Roberto Mancini said on Monday he would not name Mario Balotelli in a national squad simply to make a statement against racism.

"When I call Mario Balotelli it will be because he deserves it, not because of the colour of his skin," Mancini told a press conference before the Azzurri's final Euro 2020 qualifiers.

"I know Mario and I love him. Remember, I got Mario to play when he was a boy, so I know him really well."

Balotelli was the victim of racist abuse by Verona fans while playing for Brescia last weekend, and Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina had suggested calling up the striker would send "an extraordinary message". 

But the 29-year-old missed out on a return to the international fold for the first time in a year when Mancini named his squad last Friday. 

 


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