Mario Balotelli Told to 'Stick to His Job' by Italian Politician After Criticism

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IMarch 8, 2018

Nice's Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match Nice (OGCN) vs Lille (LOSC) on March 2, 2018 at Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice.  / AFP PHOTO / YANN COATSALIOU        (Photo credit should read YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images)
YANN COATSALIOU/Getty Images

Mario Balotelli has been told to "stick to his job" by Italian politician Toni Iwobi after the Nice striker criticised him on social media.

Balotelli posted an Instagram with the following message after Iwobi was elected to the anti-immigration Lega party: "Maybe I'm blind or maybe they haven't told him yet that he's black—what a disgrace!

Per Radio Capital (h/t Ben Gladwell at ESPN FC), Iwobi then hit back: "I'd rather just ignore him. I'm not interested in what he writes. I have to deal with enough controversy. I just want to think about my territory and the new role I've been elected to. He's a great footballer and he will remain one, but I hope he sticks to his job, considering that's what he is good at."

Iwobi became the first black senator to be elected on Sunday. The 62-year-old was born in Nigeria and came to Italy in 1976.

The Lega party, led by Matteo Salvini, wants to reduce immigration and the party leader has already made his feelings about Balotelli known. He wrote on Twitter: "Balotelli, I never liked you much on the field and I like you even less off it."

Iwobi has said his party is only against "illegal immigration," per the Guardian's Angela Giuffrida.

Balotelli has said he's been racially abused on several occasions since arriving at Nice from Liverpool in August 2016.

The striker told referee Nicolas Rainville about alleged racist chants during Nice's 3-2 Ligue 1 defeat at Dijon in February. The match official responded by producing a yellow card, as shown by Goal:

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out called the incident "unacceptable and wrong."

The striker also cited racist abuse in January 2017 after a game against Bastia. He took to Instagram to question if racism was legal in France after supporters made monkey noises toward him:

Bastia were later punished and given a suspended one-point deduction. They also had to close part of their stadium for three matches.

Balotelli had suffered racism during his time at Liverpool as well, as shown by football writer Daniel Storey:

The Lega party want to govern Italy as part of a right-wing coalition, which is a popular choice by Italians, per Westmonster's Michael Heaver:

Immigration remains a key issue in Italy as negotiations over who will form the new government continue, and Balotelli clearly feels strongly about the new leadership.

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