Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has apologised for printing a cartoon that depicted Mario Balotelli as King Kong.
The paper claimed that the cartoon was meant to be humorous, showing the 21-year-old striker as England’s conqueror after Italy’s quarter-final victory.
But in the wake of numerous incidents of racist chanting at Euro 2012, a statement from the paper admitted that the cartoon was not a great idea.
“Some of our readers have protested regarding (Valerio) Marini’s cartoon,” Gazzetta’s statement said.
“Balotelli was depicted as King Kong.
“We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist.
“At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted.
“The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise.”
Reports have claimed that Balotelli is furious with the cartoon.
Prior to Euro 2012, Balotelli claimed he would ‘kill’ anyone who threw a banana at him and would not stand for racist chanting while playing.
Croatia’s FA were fined 80,000 euros for racist chanting from their fans towards Balotelli during their match against Italy.
The former Inter Milan forward also suffered racial abuse during his time in Serie A.
But although Gazzetta were willing to accept their cartoon was a mistake they refused to be called racist themselves.
“This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility,” Gazzetta said.
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