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SERIE A

Brescia defends president after "black" comments about Balotelli

As outrage has built over the incident, Brescia issued a statement in which it played down the president’s comments, insisting that they were “misunderstood” and meant as a joke.

Brescia defends president after "black" comments about Balotelli

Brescia has defended its president lombardo Massimo Cellino in the wake of his controversial “black” comments about the club’s own player, Mario Balotelli.

Having struggled for form this season following his move to the Serie A club, Balotelli was dropped for Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Roma due to a dispute with coach Fabio Grosso.

Asked about Balotelli’s situation at an event on Monday, club president Cellino responded: “He's black, what can I say, he's working on clearing himself but he's having a lot of difficulty.”

As outrage has built over the incident, the club moved to issue a statement in which it played down the president’s comments, insisting that they were “misunderstood” and meant as a joke.

“Concerning the declarations released this afternoon by President Massimo Cellino, referring to our player Mario Balotelli, Brescia Calcio evidently deals with a paradoxical joke, clearly misunderstood, released in an attempt to defuse excessive media exposure and with intent to protect the player himself,” read the club statement.

Comments come after Hellas Verona incident

Cellino’s comments come three weeks after Balotelli was subjected to racist chants at Hellas Verona, which prompted the player to kick the ball into the stands and threaten to walk off the pitch.

Following that incident, Hellas Verona banned the club’s head ultra, Luca Castellini, for 11 years over his controversial comments in a radio interview, in which he defended the discriminatory chants and claimed that Balotelli could not be considered "completely Italian”.