French league opens investigation after Mario Balotelli is racially abused by fans
Television footage of Bastia fans racially abusing Mario Balotelli has prompted France's soccer governing body (LFP) to condemn the actions that took place on Friday.
Balotelli, born in Italy as the son of Ghanian immigrants, first called attention to the matter with a post on Instagram on Saturday.
In it, the Nice striker questioned the legality of racism in France and Bastia, as well as the integrity of the LFP's disciplinary commission. The 26-year-old ended the post by calling the actions, which included making monkey noises, a real shame.
BeIN Sports, which broadcast the match, provided footage for the LFP to review. Upon reviewing the footage, the LFP issued a statement that confirmed the video showed "some Bastia supporters making racist insults toward Mario Balotelli." The governing body also said it "condemns with the strongest firmness those who took part in these actions, who have no place inside a football stadium."
Punishment for the fans, Bastia, or both, has yet to be determined. LFP will review the matter on Thursday when the disciplinary committee meets, according to AP. Per the FIFA Disciplinary Code, any identified fans should receive a stadium ban of at least two years. Additionally, Bastia should be fined and if the offense is deemed serious enough, could play a match behind closed doors, forfeit a match, face a points deduction or even be disqualified from the competition in extreme cases.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Balotelli (and other players) have been subjected to racism. He's dealt with it for the bulk of his career, and there is sadly little reason to believe this will be the last incident. Hopefully, the LFP and more importantly, FIFA, will figure out a way to curb and eventually eradicate racism from the sport.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.