Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli chose to take the high road this week when he ignored a barrage of racially abusive chants from a group of kids outside the country's World Cup training base.
Balotelli, who was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants, appeared to be bothered but ultimately ignored the comments Wednesday, later telling reporters, "Only in Rome and Florence are they that stupid," according to The Associated Press.
The 23-year-old was reportedly training at the Coverciano center at the time of the incident. Police later tracked down those responsible for the racist remarks and stopped them, the AP noted.
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"It's unbelievable that in 2014 we still have this form of racism," Balotelli's teammate Ciro Immobile told the AP. "It's not great for the nation. We represent Italy. "
Balotelli, a forward for AC Milan, has reportedly dealt with racist comments throughout his entire career.
"It is absolutely unacceptable behavior by individuals who should not exist, but sadly we have to accept they are there. The important thing is that they are a minority," FIGC president Giancarlo Abete told ESPN.
Yahoo Sports reporter Brooks Peck said he was impressed with Balotelli’s
maturity in ignoring the comments and staying focused on practice.
"In the past, the notoriously quick tempered 23-year-old might have reacted to the provocation in a way that would only hurt himself, but instead he let the police handle it and after the training session he even stopped to sign autographs for the fans that supported him," Peck wrote.
Fans online later showed their support for Balotelli.
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