The disturbing trend of racial abuse in European soccer continues. In this instance, the fans of Inter Milan are the perpetrators.
However, Balotelli was himself fined €10,000 (£8,600) for making, in the words of Serie A's disciplinary commissioner, an "insulting gesture" towards the Inter fans at the end of the 1-1 draw.
Balotelli raised a finger to his lips when fans of Inter—where he had made his name before moving to England with Manchester City—made monkey calls and waved inflatable bananas at San Siro. The Serie A statement said the abuse started "in the 11th minute of the first half" and continued "in the 11th, 15th, 16th and 19th minutes of the second half".
Per that report, Inter was also fined by the league to the tune of €50,000. This was the second time this season their fans were guilty of racially abusing Balotelli.
Honestly, it's hard to blame Balotelli in this case. I think most people's natural reaction to racial abuse would be to respond with an "insulting gesture" or two, especially if these were fans were previously guilty of this behavior.
The sheer number of these incidents in the sport is just disgusting. In January, Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the pitch after fans of Pro Patria racially abused him. That same month, U.S. international and AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore was victimized by fans of FC Den Bosch. At this summer's Euro Cup, several players from Holland suffered the same fate in Krakow.
This is simply unacceptable behavior. There needs to be harsher punishment put in place for the teams or countries that harbor fans displaying such open racism.
Soccer is the one sport that unites the entire world, and allowing the divisiveness of racism to enter the proceedings is tragic.