Soccer

Balotelli gets permission to leave hotel

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SALVADOR, Brazil (AP)

Mario Balotelli was given special permission to attend a charity event on Friday while the rest of Italy's squad was kept inside the team hotel to avoid running into anti-government protests.

Why the exception?

''He was the only one who had permission because his color is a little different than ours,'' coach Cesare Prandelli said with a laugh.

Prandelli later clarified his statement during a Confederations Cup news conference, saying he was joking.

He added that Balotelli - the son of Ghanaian immigrants and Italy's only black player - was allowed out because he was accompanied by people showing him where to go and because he was taking part in a social project.

Balotelli supports a social project for one of Salvador's largest slums.

''He had special permission, considering the types of things he has done here and that he has already been here twice,'' Prandelli added. ''It's important for a footballer to realize how fortunate he is and to help others.''

It doesn't appear that Balotelli was offended. He tweeted, ''I look like a person from Bahia!!!''

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