In January, former Italian Prime Minister and AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi applauded his players for walking off the pitch after fans of a lower-tier club hurled racial abuse at Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng.
If you thought that might be a true turning point in stamping out racism from the often overtly racist Italian game, look no further than Silvio’s own brother, Paolo Berlusconi. The AC Milan vice president was recorded at a political meeting on Sunday making a clear racial slur in reference to the club’s latest acquisition, the impetuous, engimatic Mario Balotelli.
La Repubblica captured Paolo at an event held by his older brother’s center-right People of Freedom party, evoking laughter from his audience when he referred to Balotelli as a “negretto.” There is some confusion over the exact translation given modern twists in language, though the word either means the literal “little n****r” or the more updated “little black boy.”
“And now let’s go and watch the little black boy of the family, the hot head,” Paolo Berlusconi reportedly said. And if racism that weren’t enough, Paolo even threw in a reminder that his brother is a total perv: “All the young ladies are invited as well – you can even have a chance to meet the president.”
If that’s what he says about his own plays, perhaps even lovingly, just imagine what Paolo Berlusconi thinks about the opposition.
The Guardian has some insta-reaction:
Piara Powar, executive director of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, said the comments were “an outrage” that should not be laughed off.
“I think these comments do reflect the fact that Italian society is changing very rapidly in some parts, but attitudes haven’t moved along with that,” he said, adding: “Regardless of the societal context of different European countries, these comments are an outrage and there’s no place for them either in football or outside football.”
Balotelli just returned to his native Italy from playing for Manchester City in England. He scored twice on his AC Milan debut.
• Brazilian Prostitutes Learning English Ahead of 2014 World Cup
• Silvio Berlusconi, 76, Is Possibly Engaged to This 27-Year-Old
• Russian Soccer Champions’ Fan Group Is Definitely Not Racist