AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi calls Mario Balotelli an Italian who 'spent too long in the sun'
Berlusconi also said coach Sinisa Mihajlovic had not done enough to convince him
Silvio Berlusconi marked the 30th anniversary as owner of AC Milan with a comment that bordered on racism when talking about Mario Balotelli. The former Italian Prime Minister was visiting the Milanello training ground alongside club CEO Adriano Galliani and was talking about Milan and also their manager Sinisa Mihajlovic.
While talking to Sky Sports Italia, he spoke about wanting a Milan team comprised of only Italian players.
“My dream is to have an all-Italian Milan,” he said. “We’ve got many young Italians here at the moment. We have a rich bed of talent, such as [Jeremy] Menez and Mario Balotelli, who is Italian even if he has spent too long in the sun.”
Balotelli has an African heritage as his parents are Ghanian immigrants. He has also played 33 times for the Azzurri, scoring 13 goals.
The sly dig at the striker’s skin colour was not the first time Berlusconi has been in the limelight for racist comments. He had once described United States president Barack Obama as “young, handsome and also tanned”.
While the comment was unwarranted, Berlusconi continued to speak about Balotelli and praised his abilities.
“Mario has exceptional athletic attributes,” he explained. “I see him in training almost breaking the net with his shots, he has brilliant ball control.
“On the field I see him out of position, and I say to him, ‘Mario, do you want to win?’ We need to score to win and to score you need to be in front of goal.”
He is also not the first from the family to utter a racial slur against Balotelli. Paolo Berlusconi, Silvio’s younger brother, had once called Balotelli a ‘n****r’ in 2013.
“We are all off to see the family’s little n*****,” the then non-executive club vice president said of Balotelli. “He’s a crazy head.”
Berlusconi gives coach Sinisa Mihajlovic ultimatum on his birthday
The 79-year-old owner also said the current coach, Sinisa Mihajlovic, still had not convinced him enough. The 47-year-old Serbian manager, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, had replaced Filippo Inzaghi last summer and has overseen Milan’s steady rise to the top half of the table. The San Siro club had finished 10th last season and are currently sixth – six points behind a Champions League spot.
But Berlusconi did not give him enough credit stating, “Mihajlovic now has to convince the Rossoneri fans, the club and myself. He has just one way of achieving that, which is to win every game from here to the end.
“I am not the only one who isn’t convinced because I never just make personal decisions, I always share them with everyone.
“Therefore, in the club I share them above all with Galliani, then with many other coaches who have been at Milan for many years and I have a very sincere rapport with.”