Open City: Mario Balotelli claims racists are everywhere yet they ‘hide’ in England – praising Manchester

Former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli says he felt more at home at the Premier League champions than anywhere else in his career.

Balotelli, 23, played at City from 2010-13 and helped the club win its first top flight crown for 44 years in 2012.

He then moved back to AC Milan, having previously played in Italy for Internazionale, though he is still on the receiving end of racist taunts and only last week was abused by fans at a national team training camp in Florence.

“At City, just after I joined, we were on a plane going on tour somewhere and I looked around and I realised there were more black players than white players on the team,” Balotelli told GQ magazine.

“That was a big difference. That was kind of amazing. In Italy I was often the only one.

“Racism is everywhere. Maybe it is more open here, or in Spain. There are racists in England but I think they hide it more.”

Balotelli, renowned for his quirky sense of humour and fiery temper, said he had never been openly abused at City and he hopes, by proving a point both on and off the pitch, that the Manchester example influences others to open their minds.

“I know people are fighting this thing, and it’s important, but in the media every time I have talked about this subject people talk about it for three or four days but then everything goes back to normal,” he said.

“So, either there is something really strong for all of us to do, some real movement or real action, and in that case I will be the first guy to participate, but if it’s just talk, I’d rather not.

“We can talk about it as much as we want but things don’t change that way.”

Balotelli, whose parents are from Ghana, was a national hero at the last major tournament when his double in Warsaw at Euro 2012 stunned Germany as Italy booked a final date with holders Spain.

The maverick forward would jump at the chance to propel his nation forward in a similar vein in Brazil next month, though a more pressing concern for him is to see about change in society.

“It’s really sad to think that we can change Italy only by winning the World Cup. I hope we can change things even if we don’t win it.”

Main image courtesy of PUMA via YouTube, with thanks.

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