Soccer: Balotelli 'sorry' for outburst at ref
'Let everyone down' says Milan and Italy striker26 September, 18:34
(ANSA) - Milan, September 26 - Mario Balotelli on Thursday apologised for insulting the referee after AC Milan's 2-1 home defeat to Napoli Sunday, an incident which earned him a three-match ban.
"I apologise, I'm sorry for my teammates, fans and the club.
I apologise to the ref, I shouldn't have said those things to him," the Italy striker told Sky.
"Mario made a mistake," he went on, referring to himself in the third person, "he was provoked and was wrong to react. But he didn't kill anyone".
Balotelli's agent Mino Raiolo said the player had sent his "heartfelt" apologies to referee Luca Banti as well as his teammates, fans and Milan, aware that he "let them down".
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said Tuesday it was time for Balotelli to grow up.
"Mario Balotelli isn't a kid anymore, he's 23 years old, and he has to change," Allegri said.
"He has the potential to be a world-class player but he has to change his attitude to referees," he said, adding that his player would probably "get better protection" from refs if he did.
On Monday Serie A's sporting judge gave Balotelli a two-match ban for directing abusive and intimidatory language at the referee on top of the automatic one-game suspension he got for being sent off after the final whistle after a second yellow card for dissent.
The volatile Italy centre-forward, whose career has been dogged by incidents of indiscipline, missed Milan's 3-3 draw at Bologna on Wednesday and will be out for their home match against Sampdoria on Saturday and next week's showdown with champions Juventus.
He also risks not being called up for Italy's next game in accordance with the code of conduct coach Cesare Prandelli has imposed on the national team and applied by dropping Balotelli and other players in the past.
Allegri said he was "confident" Balotelli would not endanger his prospects of playing in next year's World Cup.
"He has common sense. He'll learn his lesson. I can give him a hand but he has to help himself too," said the Tuscan coach.