French football authorities on Monday, said that they are looking into allegations by Nice forward Mario Balotelli that he “heard monkey chants directed at him” during a defeat at Dijon on Saturday.
The French League (LFP) said “the case will be studied on Thursday by the disciplinary commission” but added that it doesn’t have any other evidence at this stage. Balotelli was booked for gesticulating angrily at the crowd in the game on Saturday. He then complained to the referee that he had been subjected to racist abuse.
Nice had posted a message on Twitter during the match claiming Balotelli had “picked up a yellow card after... getting annoyed at fans’ racist abuse”.
British organisation Kick It Out, which campaigns against discrimination, weighed in with a statement saying it “was shocked to see Mario Balotelli booked for bringing to the attention of the referee alleged racist chanting directed towards him by Dijon supporters”.
Kick It Out said it “expects a strong response from the French football authorities”. Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere said Balotelli, whose biological parents are from Ghana, has “all our support”.
“We deplore the fact that Mario has again had to suffer racist abuse,” he said. “It’s unforgivable, and let’s not forget that it is unfortunately not the first time in our league.”
Last season Bastia were hit with a suspended one-point deduction and three-game partial stand closure by the French League over the behaviour of some of their fans.
The club cancelled the season ticket of one fan in his 40s while a court in Bastia handed the supporter a two-month suspended prison sentence, a €1,000 fine and an 18-month stadium ban. Balotelli was also targeted while playing for both Inter Milan and AC Milan in his homeland.
During Euro 2012, UEFA punished the Croatian Football federation and investigated Spain following racist abuse directed at Balotelli by fans. In 2014 British police investigated offensive remarks directed at Balotelli, who has played for both Manchester City and Liverpool, on Twitter.
(With inputs from AFP)