Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino embroiled in Mario Balotelli race row

Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has been "clearly misunderstood", say Italian club Brescia

By PA Sport
Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 9:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 9:50 am
Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino. (Getty)
Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino. (Getty)

Brescia have said that Massimo Cellino was "clearly misunderstood" after the club's president sparked controversy with an apparently racist comment about striker Mario Balotelli.

Cellino appeared to reference the colour of Balotelli's skin when asked about the Italy international's current situation at the Serie A strugglers on Monday.

Balotelli, who has scored twice in seven appearances since joining Brescia in the summer, was dropped by new coach Fabio Grosso for Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Roma following a reported training ground dispute.

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Cellino was quoted as saying on Monday: "He's black. He's working on lightening himself, but he's struggling."

The former Leeds owner's comments have hit the headlines but Brescia have responded with a statement saying Cellino was misunderstood and that his remarks were a 'paradoxical joke' aimed at 'defusing excessive media exposure'.

The statement read: "Concerning the statements made by Massimo Cellino about Mario Balotelli this afternoon, Brescia evidently feels it is a paradoxical joke, clearly misunderstood, which was made in an attempt to defuse excessive media exposure and intending the protect the player himself."

Earlier this month, Balotelli kicked the ball into the crowd after being racially abused by Hellas Verona fans during Brescia's 2-1 defeat at the Bentegodi Stadium.

The former Liverpool and Manchester City striker also threatened to walk off the pitch, with Verona subsequently being punished with a partial stadium ban.