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Prandelli apologises for Balotelli race remarks

22 June 2013 03:36

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has been forced to apologise for comments referring to Mario Balotelli's skin colour.

Amid violent protests in Brazil that have so far caused one death, Prandelli said his team were staying indoors, except for Balotelli as his 'colour is different to ours'.

The Italy coach later said the comment was 'a joke', and apologised for the racial stereotyping.

Balotelli had been away from the remainder of the Italy squad due to charity work in Salvador, ahead of the Azzurri's clash with Brazil to conclude Group A of the Confederations Cup on Saturday, with both nations already qualified for the semi-finals.

"Before I said something about the colour of our skin," Prandelli said.

"I am glad we clarified that issue about why he was the only one allowed out.

"He was surrounded by all these people but he was working with a charity and doing something nice."

Prandelli said despite doubt over the remainder of the tournament going ahead, he said his team had no thoughts of leaving the South American nation just yet.

"Going back home is something we are not thinking about at all," Prandelli said.

"Of course in the last few days the situation has changed because while we were in Rio, everything was fine, we went around the city without any problems.

"Then in Recife (where Italy played against Japan) and here in Salvador, because of the problems we have not been able to leave our hotel, so we are concerned. But have we thought about going home? Absolutely not."

Prandelli dismissed rumours members from the Italian FA had approached FIFA about abandoning the tournament.

"Our board have not proposed going back home to FIFA officials," he said.

"Of course, we as sports people would like to see a football match tomorrow and provide happiness to the supporters, and we hope not to see people protest outside the stadium, because that would be a complete contradiction."

Italy and Brazil will do battle at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Bahia, with both nations carrying eight-match unbeaten streaks into the fixture.

The Italians have not beaten Brazil since 1982, losing three and drawing two since.

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