Cesare Prandelli has told racist supporters they will have to get used to the new world. “My Italy will always be multi-ethnic.”
A small group of fans in the crowd for last night's 1-1 draw with Romania protested against the inclusion of Mario Balotelli and Argentine-born Cristian Ledesma.
They held up banners that read: ‘Italy is for Italians' and ‘No to a multi-ethnic Italy.'
“It's hard to find the words. These incidents leave you sad, disappointed and angry. So much is said, but we are unable to do anything about it,” said Coach Prandelli.
“At times I'd like to see and to say something really attention-grabbing, but perhaps it's better to just ignore some people.
“In any case, everyone must know that my Italy will always be multi-ethnic and open to everyone with Italian citizenship, regardless of the colour of their skin.
“Mario should also know he has the affection and respect of everybody. I don't think it's true that it all slides off him like water off a duck's back. How can it?
“In fact, if at times it seems as if he loses focus on the field, perhaps in the light of certain things it's easier to understand why.
“I would like to see some more gestures to support him. Maybe next time we should all step on to the pitch to embrace him.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.