An Italian tabloid newspaper is apologising to Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli after publishing a picture of him as a gorilla.
Gazzetta dello Sport were forced to say sorry after a cartoonist drew a picture of the Italian forward as King Kong.
The image showed Balotelli on the top of Big Ben swatting away footballs after his country’s win over England on Sunday at the Euro 2012.
A statement from Gazzetta read: “Some of our readers have protested regarding [Valerio] Marini’s cartoon.
“Balotelli was depicted as King Kong.
“We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist.
“At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted.
“The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise.
“But those that accuse Gazzetta [and poor Marini] of racism are going overboard.
“This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility.”
Balotelli has allegedly been a victim of racism at tournament and previously said that he would walk of the pitch of he heard abusive chants.
The 21-year-old star was a dangerous threat during England’s penalty shootout defeat, but he failed to double his tournament goal tally after netting the winner against Ireland.