by Simon Bird
Mario Balotelli has suffered racist abuse on the internet, with neo-Nazis from his home country claiming he should not be playing for Italy.
The Manchester City striker was last night backed by Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, who said he will run on to the pitch to hug Balotelli if it ever happens when he plays.
The Italian camp last night revealed that a US-based website called Stormfront, run by white supremacists, has been closed down in Italy by Jewish authorities in recent days because of postings against the striker.
The website said: “He’s black and Jewish he should play for Israel not Italy.”
Balotelli, who was brought up by an Italian family with Jewish ancestry, was targeted after he visited Auschwitz on June 6 with squad members.
He has also fronted anti-racism campaigns and made a vow to walk off the pitch if he suffers racist chanting at Euro 2012.
Prandelli said: “If Mario gets any racist problem, I will give him a big hug on the pitch.
“This is not an Italian problem, it is a social problem.”