PHOTOS: GETTY, AP
European football's governing body has announced it will discipline Croatia after "hundreds" of fans hurled racist abuse, "monkey chants" and threw several bananas at Italy's Black football superstar Mario Balotelli. It happened Thursday during Croatia's 1-1 draw against Italy at the European Championships in Poland, reports the Daily Mail and SKY Sports.
UEFA acted after the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network announced on Friday their observers heard between 300 and 500 Croatia fans chanting monkey noises at Italy striker Balotelli in Thursday's match. That followed reports a photographer witnessed a steward retrieving a banana from the pitch as well as hearing the same chants.
It is understood UEFA are still probing allegations the Manchester City striker, 21, was subjected to monkey chants in Italy's opening match against Spain on Sunday. Saturday's announcement of proceedings against Croatia followed a 25,000-euro ($33,000 USD) fine on Friday after their fans set off and threw fireworks and missiles, and a supporter invaded the pitch, during Sunday's win over Republic of Ireland.
Mario Balotelli is Italy's first born-and-bred Black footballing superstar. The 21-year-old striker was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants. Balotelli has previously announced that he will walk off the pitch if subjected by racist abuse—and he did just that on Friday.
This is just the latest and perhaps most egregious example of racist abuse at the EURO 2012 games. Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was subjected to monkey chants during his side's opener against Russia last Friday. The Netherlands' four Black players also faced racist jeers from on-lookers during training on Wednesday.
The EURO 2012 games are hosted by Poland and Ukraine, which was represented last month at Eurovision by a Black contestant. "Of the 20 selected national teams, 8 have at least one black player," reports Afro-Europe. England, France and the Netherlands have the highest number of Black players.
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