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AC Milan VP Unleashes Another Racism Scandal, Referring To Player With Slur

Paolo Berlusconi looks on during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano in 2012.
Claudio Villa
Getty Images
Paolo Berlusconi looks on during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano in 2012.

The vice president of the soccer club AC Milan, who is also Silvio Berlusconi's younger brother, has unleashed another racism scandal.

During a political rally, Paolo Berlusconi referred to one of his players, Mario Balotelli, by using the "N" word.

"OK, we are all off to see the family's little [slur]," Berlusconi can be heard saying in a video of the event. "He's a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well – you can even have a chance to meet the president [Silvio Berlusconi]."

Britain's The Independent reports:

"The comments come at a sensitive time for the club and Italian football, with Milan midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng recently staging a walk-off in a friendly match after being racially abused by a section of supporters. Boateng's actions won praise from Berlusconi senior.

"Paolo Berlusconi was attending a rally for a candidate for his brother's right-wing People of Freedom party when he made the comments. ...

"A spokesman for the Serie A club said today there would be no comment from AC Milan regarding the video."

As we've reported, racism is big deal in European soccer. Last March, a British student was jailed for sending a racist tweet about a collapsed player and last summer John Terry, a former captain of England's national soccer team, was tried over what he told Anton Ferdinand, a black opponent.

The Guardian reports that the Italian-born Balotelli had just joined AC Milan from Manchester City.

CNN spoke to Italian football expert John Foot for some political context. The network reports:

"When the deal — worth around $31 million — to bring Balotelli to AC was announced last week, La Stampa estimated the signing of 'Super Mario' could be worth 400,000 votes in Silvio Berlusconi's bid for re-election in Italy later this month.

"While the incident could damage Berlusconi's image abroad, Foot doubted it would affect his popularity in Italy.

"'His reputation abroad is pretty appalling anyway,' added Foot. 'There hasn't been a debate in Italy about racist language. For a long time they used to use words to describe immigrants which were absolutely racist.

"'It is something I don't think will have an impact on Berlusconi domestically.'"

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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