ANFIELD — Mario Balotelli found himself on the receiving end of yet more racist abuse on Sunday after a jokey reference to Manchester United’s shock defeat by Leicester sparked a flurry of invective on social media.
Police later confirmed they were looking into the abuse that had come the Liverpool striker’s way, with a Merseyside Police statement saying: “We can confirm officers are looking into offensive comments made on Twitter about Mario Balotelli earlier today (Sunday).”
Asked if they were investigating formally, a force spokesman replied “yes, we are”, adding: “As far as I am aware, there have been no complaints, but we have been made aware of it by a number of Press enquiries.”
Sunday saw Leicester come from 3-1 down to beat Manchester United, Liverpool’s arch-rivals, 5-3 in a stunning match at the King Power Stadium.
Italy forward Balotelli, whose first spell in English football was with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, responded to the remarkable result by tweeting “Man Utd . . . LOL (Laugh Out Loud)”.
But the black forward, the son of immigrants from Ghana but fostered by the white, Italian Balotelli family in his formative years, saw his comment met by several racist messages.
Balotelli, a member of the Liverpool side that lost 3-1 to West Ham on Saturday, has been a victim of racist abuse in the past.
He was jeered by Italy supporters during a pre-World Cup training camp in May and was on the receiving end of numerous racial taunts during his time at Internazionale and, more recently, AC Milan.
Balotelli spoke about the abuse that had come his way in an interview with GQ magazine in July.
“They aren’t used to seeing people who are different, not white, who act not as rebels, but normally,” he said.
“I think what the ignorant people don’t like is that people who are different are allowed to act that way.
“These stupid people, they get angry with me. They say horrible things, but I haven’t done anything different from other people.
“I have made mistakes, like everyone does, and I have always paid for my mistakes. I think that if I was white, maybe some people would still find me irritating or annoying, but it wouldn’t be the same. Absolutely not.
“Jealousy is a horrible thing, but when this jealousy is towards people who are different from the majority, and who maybe also have more than you, then it becomes anger, it becomes rage, and that’s the overt racism.”