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Brescia ready to forfeit matches if Italian season resumes

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BRESCIA, Italy — The president of Italian soccer club Brescia said Thursday he will forfeit his team’s remaining Serie A matches if the league resumes.

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Brescia is the third-worst hit province in Italy with more than 8,500 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths.

“This season doesn’t make sense anymore,” Massimo Cellino said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’re all stopped, no team will return the same as before, matches played behind closed doors, and then there’s the risk to the health of the players.

“Returning to activity is pure craziness. If they force us to I am ready to not put out the team and lose the matches 3-0 by default out of respect for the citizens of Brescia and their loved ones who aren’t here anymore.”

Serie A has been suspended since March 9 and at least 15 players in the league have tested positive for COVID-19.

Brescia is in last place in the league standings. The president of Lazio recently accused Cellino of trying to avoid relegation.

“I don’t care at all about relegation,” Cellino said. “So far we have deserved it and I have my blame in that, too.

“I’m speaking generally … to prolong the season we would need to change all national and international rules – player contracts, balance sheets, deadlines with the banks, transfer market, preparation, start of the new season. Absolute chaos.”

UEFA is contemplating having the domestic season run into August – if games can resume amid nationwide lockdowns because of the virus.

“The season has to end June 30, the deadline to present the club’s budgets and player contracts,” Cellino said. “They are arrogant and irresponsible. They only think about their economic interests and their cup competitions.

“But UEFA doesn’t decide for the Italian championship, Italy decides. In order to resume Serie A, it has to end by June 30. Will they make us play every two days? Or does UEFA also have the power to extend the days and make them 72 hours?”

Italy has recorded the most deaths of any nation because of the virus. It has extended a strict nationwide lockdown, including banning professional athletes from training inside sports facilities, until April 13. Authorities have also cautioned that any return to normal movement will be a slow process.

Brescia president Massimo Cellino wants Serie A to be cancelled: ‘Anyone who wants this cursed title, take it’

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Brescia president Massimo Cellino wants the current Serie A season to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, calling for league officials to prioritize public health, while dubbing the league title “cursed.”

“You don’t have to think about when to start again, but if you survive,” Cellino told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper. “Everything has to be moved to the next season. It is time for realism, gentlemen. This is the plague.”

“You can no longer play this year,” he added. “Think about the next one. Some people still do not realize what is happening, and those people are worse than the virus. I don’t believe in miracles, I stopped doing it long ago. We reset.”

While some Serie A teams are reportedly eager to resume training, Cellino, who owned Leeds United from 2014 to 2017, wants the season to be voided. Brescia are dead last in Serie A, which has been on shutdown since March 9, with 16 points after 26 matches.

 “Anyone who wants this cursed [title], take it. It is closed. Finished. And I am not saying this because Brescia is last,” Cellino said. “We are last because we deserve it.”

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Fan who aimed chants at Balotelli banned from sports events

Balotelli racial abuser banned
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VERONA, Italy — A Sicilian man was banned from European sports events for five years Thursday for directing racist chants at Brescia striker Mario Balotelli.

Verona police issued the ruling after reviewing evidence from the Hellas Verona-Brescia game on Nov. 3.

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The 38-year-old man was also barred from frequenting areas that fans pass through on match days.

Balotelli angrily kicked a ball high into the stands and threatened to leave the field because of the racist chants directed at him during the game in Verona, which was suspended for several minutes.

Balotelli, who is black, was also subjected to racist chants by Lazio fans during a game last weekend.

Balotelli was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants and has represented the Italian national team. He recently returned to Serie A after several seasons in France.

Serie A: Atalanta bounces back by hammering Balotelli’s Brescia

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ROME (AP) Mario Balotelli showed flashes of form as he returned to Brescia’s lineup after sitting out a game due to disciplinary reasons. But it was another Mario who made the biggest impact in a regional Serie A derby with Atalanta on Saturday.

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Mario Pasalic scored either side of halftime and Atalanta won 3-0 to stay in the Champions League qualifying places.

Balotelli hit the post early in the second half and had several other chances. Still, last-placed Brescia lost its sixth straight and 10th in 13 matches this season.

Brescia hasn’t scored, and has conceded 10, in Fabio Grosso’s three matches in charge since replacing Eugeno Corini.

“We played with fear and if the opponents smell timidity they take advantage of it,” said Grosso, who is coaching in Serie A for the first time. “I haven’t been here for very long. It’s going to take time and hard work to put something worthwhile together.”

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Atalanta moved level on points with fourth-placed Cagliari and fifth-placed Roma — with the top four finishers qualifying for the Champions League.

Pasalic was left unmarked to head in Brescia’s opener and scored his second with a slick backheel flick from close range.

Josip Ilicic scored Atalanta’s third by finishing off a counterattack in added time.

VIDEO: Brescia defend club president after racist Balotelli comments

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Mario Balotelli has been subjected to more racist abuse in Serie A, this time from the president of his own club, Massimo Cellino.

Earlier this month Balotelli was subjected to racist chants from Hellas Verona fans during a game for Brescia, his hometown club, and at the weekend he was left out of the squad for their 3-0 defeat at Roma after having a disagreement with head coach Fabio Grosso.

Asked about the situation regarding Balotelli, here’s what Cellino had to say: “He’s black, what can I say, he’s working on clearing himself but he’s having a lot of difficulty.”

Here is a video of the simply shocking comments from Cellino.

The club then released a statement, saying that Cellino’s comment was “clearly misunderstood” and he was in fact trying to protect Balotelli.

Balotelli, 29, has scored twice for Brescia this season as they sit bottom of Serie A.