Balotelli hit by fresh race row as Italian councillor posts picture of striker 'working fields as immigrant worker' on Facebook
An Italian regional councillor has sparked a race row after he posted on his Facebook page a picture of footballer Mario Balotelli working in fields as an immigrant worker. Paolo Ciani, 51, of the right wing Future and Liberty party, mocked up the photograph which showed Balotelli, 21, wearing his Italian shirt and bent over collecting cabbages in a field. The caption underneath referred to Balotelli's elbow against Ireland's Richard Dunne in his side's 2-0 win which went unseen by the match referee, the player's goal and then his foul mouthed outburst. It comes days before Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final clash with England, where Balotelli is likely to face, and possibly be 'wound up', by several of his Manchester City club teammates.
Outrage: An Italian regional councillor has sparked a race row after he posted on his Facebook page a picture of footballer Mario Balotelli working in fields as an immigrant worker
Verbal: Italy's Mario Balotelli is hushed up by team-mates Thiago Motta, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Balzaretti after he scored his goal against Ireland
Ciani wrote: 'He comes commits a foul worthy of a red card, scores then unleashes a verbal onslaught against the bench forcing them to shut him up. 'This clown should go and work in the fields.' In Italy it is not uncommon to see immigrants from Africa or South America working in fields collecting vegetables in searing heat. There have been numerous complaints over conditions they have to endure.
It comes after UEFA launched an investigation against Croatian fans after they threw bananas at Balotelli and aimed monkey chants at him. Before the tournament started Manchester City striker Balotelli, who was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrant parents, had vowed to walk off if he was racially abused.
Anger: Paolo Ciani, 51, of the right wing Future and Liberty party, mocked up the photograph which showed Balotelli, 21, wearing his Italian shirt and bent over collecting cabbages in a field
So far he has stayed on the pitch. Ciani, based in Trieste in north east Italy, an area well known for its nationalism, immediately hit back at claims he was being racist and at those who had attacked him via Facebook. He posted a picture of himself at a council meeting with a black resident adding: 'How can they accuse me of racism. I work with non European Union nationals. 'This is the best response to this presumed racism.' Married Ciani added: 'What I was doing was making a footballing comment, I was highlighting how Balotelli had committed a bad foul which could have got him sent off.
Force: Italian striker Mario Balotelli controlling the ball against Ireland (left) and receiving a yellow card against European and World Champions Spain (right)
Lazy: Mario Balotelli (left) relaxes as his colleagues train yesterday
'Then his reaction after scoring was so over the top one of his team mates had to put his hand over his mouth. 'I am friends with (Ghanaian) footballer Kwadwo Asamoah who is blacker than Balotelli but he has never been whistled and jeered at because before being a footballer he is a man. 'As I said all I was doing was making a footballing comment. I believe Balotelli with his extravagance and vision on life is a poor example for the younger genration. 'I said he had to go to work because that is a common phrase. Once we used to say focus on fishing but now we say go to work.' Today, Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola was unavailable for comment.