Mario Balotelli was subjected to horrific racial abuse on Sunday by Manchester United supporters following their sides 5-3 defeat to Leicester City in the Premier League. Balotelli had made the comment on Twitter "Man Utd - LOL" a comment that had been retweeted 150,000 times. Some Manchester United supporters had responded in their normal classy way by sending insulting, racist replies back. Many people have jumped to the defence of Balotelli on Twitter and it is understood that some have taken screen shots of the offensive comments and forwarded them to the police. Merseyside Police have confirmed on their official account that they are looking into reports of offensive comments and a spokesman has said that they are launching an investigation. Meanwhile anti discrimination body Kick it Out said that they were aware of the Tweets and had reported them to the authorities.
Would this have happened if Balotelli hadn't posted the initial message? Probably not, although he has been subject of plenty of racist abuse before. Perhaps he shouldn't have posted but it was just a Tweet poking fun at rivals, there was nothing abusive or threatening in what he said, he was just having a laugh at their expense and probably trying to endear himself with his new army of fans at Liverpool, it was in this case, banter, nothing offensive, nothing threatening, nothing out of order just something tens of thousands of supporters of other clubs would have done or said over the course of Sunday evening, people were laughing at Liverpool on Saturday and it was Manchester United's turn on Sunday, it's part of supporting a team, when things go wrong people poke fun at you.
That United fans responded this way is absolutely unacceptable, there is never, under any circumstances a time when racism, no matter who it is aimed at is acceptable. It is absolutely correct that some people have reported it to the police, everybody should have done, that is the correct reaction. It is correct that some of the offenders are been named and shamed, they should be named for the vile bigots that they are, they shouldn't be allowed to hide behind a Twitter account, their friends, families and colleagues should know exactly what they are and its correct that organisations such as Kick it Out have spoken out on the issue quickly, they need to do more than wear T-Shirts occasionally and ensure action is taken against people like these.
To often stories about abuse and racism are swept away after an initial couple of lines in the paper or on a website, I hope that the police take action against these cowards, they are cowards I doubt any of them would have said anything to his face, and make a statement to everybody that racism will not be accepted around our game and in our society.
Manchester United as a club are not at fault in this issue, all they did was lose a football match, but a group of their supporters are and I would hope that they, as a club, will condemn what has been said by these people who are aligning themselves with their club and team.
Racism has no place in or around football or society, a player of any team should be able to have a bit of banter and not have to face abuse from people, a bit of banter back yes, racist abuse no.