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UEFA to investigate reportsItaly striker Mario Balotelli had banana thrown at him

Published: June 16, 2012 | 8:04 am
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UEFA have confirmed they are investigating reports a banana was thrown at Italy strikerMario Balotelli.
A photographer claims he saw a steward retrieving the fruit from the pitch during Italy’s clash with Croatia on Thursday.
The FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network also announced their observers heard between 300 and 500 Croatia fans chanting monkey noisesat Balotelli in the 1-1 Group C draw in Poznan.
UEFA confirmed they were aware of the racism claimsand said: “We are looking intothe reports.”
Manchester City star Balotelli said before the tournament he would kill anyone who threw a banana at him in the street and threatened to walk off the pitchif racially abused. UEFA are already probing allegations the 21-year-old was subjected to monkey chants in Italy’s opening match against Spain.
That may have been missed by FARE but European football’s leading anti-racism campaigners posted on Twitter: “FARE observers report between 300 and 500 supporters of Croatia involved in racially abusing Mario Balotelli at the match in Poznan.
“UEFA received the observers’ reports this afternoon. We are working with them to provide as much information as possible.
“We congratulate the Italian fans for their support of Balotelli last night. Many sang his name to drown out the monkey chants.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, who rejected claims Balotelli was racially abused during the game against Spain, insisted he was unaware of the alleged banana-throwing incident.
He said: “No, I haven’t seen anything.”
The Italian Football Federation later confirmed the claims and photograph had been brought to their attention but added that no one from their delegation witnessed the incident.
A spokesman said: “There’s not any official complaint at the moment about that. It’s not quite clear where this photograph was shot at the game and whether it [the banana] was launched against Mario Balotelli.”
UEFA are also looking into allegations Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was subjected to monkey chants during his side’s Group A opener against Russia last Friday.
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) were hit with a £20,000 fine for the setting off and throwing of fireworks and missiles, and a pitch invasion by a supporter during Sunday’s win over Ireland.
The HNS could face further action following a repeat against Italy, while any conviction for racist abuse may lead to even more severe sanctions.

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