Soccer: MLS urges Balotelli to come to America

LA Galaxy, Inter Miami, Toronto, Montreal 'most appealing'

(ANSA) - Rome, November 26 - Major League Soccer (MLS) on Tuesday invited unsettled Brescia striker Mario Balotelli to join the US league.
    "If you're looking or listening, Mario, make it happen in January," MLS said on its website.
    "Here are some suggestions for possible destinations: Inter Miami or the Los Angeles Galaxy are the most attractive choices, or Toronto FC in Canada, and Montreal where Thierry Henry is waiting for you." Balotelli, 29, was dropped by Brescia after a row with coach Fabio Grosso last week, and on Monday was the subject of an allegedly racist quip from Chairman Massimo Cellino.
    Cellino made an apparent joke about Balotelli's skin colour as he commented on the situation after the forward was dropped for his side's 3-0 defeat at AS Roma on Sunday.
    "He's black and he's working to lighten up, but he has lots of difficulty," a smiling Cellino said when asked about the former Italy player.
    The remark was a pun on 'nero', the Italian word for black, which can also mean 'in a foul temper'.
    Cellino's intended quip was not immediately denounced as racist by officials and politicians, apart from a lone leftwing MP.
    "Cellino responds to difficulties with racist remarks which don't even make you smile because they don't make sense," said Nicola Fratoianni of the Free and Equal (LeU) leftist party. Brescia were quick to try and dismiss the remark as a "quip, based on a paradox, clearly misunderstood, made in an attempt to defuse excessive media coverage and meant to protect the player".
    Cellino himself said he had nothing to apologise for.
    "Who called me a racist?," he said. "If you write all the rubbish I say, you'll never stop writing. I don't have to apologise for something I don't believe. If I clarify, I do more damage. Decent people know me". Balotelli, who was born in Italy to Ghanaian migrants, was dropped for the match after a training-ground row with coach Grosso.
    The forward has frequently been the target for racist abuse during his career and he hoofed the ball into the stands and came close to walking off when he was subjected to monkey chants in a recent match at Hellas Verona.
    Last week the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) appeals court on Thursday suspended an order closing the ultra stand of Verona stadium for one match over the chants, pending further investigations into Verona's appeal.
    Cellino added that he thinks Balotelli should focus less on social media.
    "It's right to communicate with people but perhaps Balotelli gives more weight to social media than to his value as a sportsman," he said.
    "I signed him because he is 1.90 metres (tall), he's an animal and he is still young enough to make a statement in soccer".
    Balotelli last played for Italy in June 2018, after a long absence partly due to a history of temper tantrums.
    His past clubs include Inter Milan, Man City, Liverpool, AC Milan, Nice and Marseille.