PUBLISHED: 16:55 EST, 29 May 2012 | UPDATED: 06:13 EST, 30 May 2012
Warning: Balotelli has threatened to walk off
Mario Balotelli has threatened to walk off the pitch if he is racially abused at Euro 2012 and said he would ‘kill’ anyone who dares to throw a banana at him.
Manchester City’s volatile Italian striker spoke out amid increasing concerns that black players will be targeted by racists when the tournament kicks off in Poland and Ukraine next week.
The families of England players Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott will not travel to Ukraine because of fears for their safety but Balotelli, of Ghanaian descent, said: ‘I will not accept racism at all. It’s unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.’
Balotelli has been the victim of racist abuse on several occasions – most recently in February when Porto were fined over the behaviour of their supporters in a Europa League tie against City.
‘Let’s see what happens at the Euros,’ added Balotelli. ‘I hope it will pass without a problem. I really couldn’t deal with that.’
Balotelli, 21, was targeted by Juventus and Roma fans while playing for Inter Milan in 2009, which resulted in Juve having to play a match behind closed doors.
In June of that year, he was racially abused and pelted with bananas in a Rome bar while out with Italy teammates in the build-up to the European Under-21 Championships.
He added: ‘It was lucky that the police arrived quickly because, I swear, I would have beaten them. I would have really destroyed them. I hope it never happens again.’
Centre of attention: Balotelli has been given the No 9 shirt ahead of this summer’s tournament
In an interview with France Football, the striker insists he is a misunderstood ‘genius’ and said he hopes to stay at City despite a series of controversies.
‘It’s not easy when ”call girls” talk in the newspapers or when people say they have seen me here or there during the evening,’ he said.
Misunderstood: Balotelli hopes to stay at Manchester City beyond this season
‘But I would like to stay at City, because here I have affection. Will I stay? I don’t know. I think so. You have to ask Mino (Raiola, his agent).
‘It’s good luck that Roberto Mancini appreciates and understands me. Mancini always gives me confidence. Those who know me, love me. Those who don’t know me, love me, too, or they hate me.
‘It’s said that geniuses are misunderstood. But maybe it is because the genius is so different that people are not capable of understanding them. Yes, I think I’m a genius. But I don’t think I’m a rebel. I have my life, my world, I act how I want, without bugging anyone.’
Ukraine said a BBC Panorama documentary was ‘xenophobic’ after it showed their fans giving Nazi salutes and taunting black players with monkey noises. Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate, broadcast on Monday, also showed Asian students being attacked in Kharkiv, a Euro 2012 venue.
Government spokesman Oleh Voloshyn said: ‘It portrayed eastern Europe as mentally not equal to the rest of Europe. We believe this report is outrageous, done in the best traditions of Soviet journalism. Ukraine is one the leaders in Europe in terms of religious and racial tolerance.’