According to Mario Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola, the former Manchester City forward is not valued in Italy because he is black.
Raiola has insisted that racism remains a significant problem in the Italian game and suggests that the player would not be so harshly judged by the fans and media if he was white.
Balotelli is currently on loan at AC Milan from Liverpool but has failed to play since September because of a groin injury, and has found himself under considerable criticism for a perceived lack of loyalty and discipline.
And his agent, Mino Raiola, has told the Italian media that this is because attitudes in the country remain “light years behind other places” when it comes to questions of race and tolerance.
“People judge (Balotelli) too much and I think that is because he lives in a country that is not ready to have such a strong black player,” Raiola said.
“Italy is light years behind other countries in that respect. There is racism in the game: some of it is unconscious but black players have to do twice as much as others to prove themselves.”