Balotelli blasts black League Senator (4)

'Perhaps they haven't told him he is black' says forward

(ANSA) - Rome, March 7 - Nice's Italian forward Mario Balotelli on Wednesday attacked Toni Iwobi, a member of the anti-migrant League party who was elected Italy's first black Senator in Sunday's general election. "Perhaps I'm blind or perhaps they have not told him yet that he is black. But shame on you!!!," Balotelli said via Instagram.
    Iwobi, a 62-year-old IT entrepreneur originally from Nigeria, responded that "I prefer to ignore him".
    League League Matteo Salvini did not.
    "I didn't like Balotelli on the field, I like him even less off it," Salvini said.
    Balotelli, who scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for Italy, has frequently been the target of racist abuse. Andrew Howe, the first black man in Italian athletics, said Iwobi's being immigration chief "is a bit of a nonsense" but the official "has his political ideas, he has probably studied and decided what to embrace".
    Salvini has taken a hardline stance on the migrant crisis and called for mass deportations after Nigerian nationals were arrested in relation to the murder of an 18-year-old woman whose dismembered body was found in two suitcases near Macerata.
    Former League activist and rightwing extremist Luca Traini, 28, shot and wounded six African migrants in Macerata days later, saying he was avenging the woman.
    Several League members have been involved in racism storms in the past.
    Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio was ordered to pay Congo-born former Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge - Italy's first black minister - 50,000 euros in compensation for a racist slur last year.
    Borghezio reportedly said, among other things, that "Africans are Africans and belong to an ethnic group very different from ours".
    In another remark that was not covered by that verdict, Borghezio claimed Kyenge would impose her "tribal traditions" from the Congo on Italy.
    "This is a bonga bonga government, they want to change birthright citizenship laws and Kyenge wants to impose her tribal traditions from the Congo," said Borghezio.
    In November 2013 Northern League Senator and former minister Roberto Calderoli compared Kyenge to an orangutan.
    New Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana, also a League member, apologised for saying mass migrant arrivals could threaten the "white race" during his campaign for the regional election. Iwobi, now a Bergamo resident, has been in Matteo Salvini's party for more than 20 years. He became a town councillor for the League at Spirano in 1995. Since then he has been a committed activist and has become the party's immigration and security chief, speaking regularly on Italian TV. Iwobi has been in Italy for 38 years. Iwobi led the League's campaign on Italy's immigration crisis, under the slogan "stop the invasion". A former centre-left MP of Congolese origins, Jean Leonard Touadi, said: "I have always been struck by Senator Iwobi's Stockholm Syndrome; he has acted as a loudspeaker for his captors' anti-African proclamations".