June 2009: Whilst in Rome with the Italian Under-21 squad, preparing for the upcoming European Championships, Balotelli was approached by a group of Roma Ultras. The racist supporters threw bananas at him and shouted racial slurs, forcing Balotelli to call the police, who escorted him back to the team hotel. Under-21 Coach Pierluigi Casiraghi praised Balotelli’s mature response to the incident.
June 2009: In the first match for the Under-21s at the European Championships, a wider audience saw both sides of Balotelli. Against Sweden, he first curled in a glorious opening goal, before receiving a straight red card for a petulant kick just 15 minutes later. He was suspended until the semi-finals, when Italy were eliminated by Germany.
September 2009: Inter looked set to secure a valuable Champions League group stage victory in Russia against Rubin Kazan, until Balotelli’s volatility cost them dearly. He had previously played very well, hitting the crossbar once and nearly scoring a few times, until two unnecessary fouls brought two bookings and a sending off. Inter were down to 10 men and ended up having to hang on for a draw. The angry reaction to his red card meant he was forced to publicly apologise on Inter’s website in the subsequent few days.
November 2009: Although Inter drew 1-1 with Roma, meaning they were five points clear at the top of Serie A, Mourinho voiced his anger at their performance. He called the team “awful”, but singled out Balotelli: “He came close to a zero rating out of 10,” Mourinho claimed. It was another all-too-apparent episode that there was no love lost between the manager and player.
November 2009: Balotelli’s relationship with Mourinho took another battering, as the youngster turned up late for Inter training. He was suspected of going out clubbing the previous night, and Mourinho banished him to train with the youth team for the rest of the week, and did not include him in Inter’s squad for their match at the weekend.
November 2009: Juventus fans, despite not even playing Inter, caused a stir by repeatedly singing racist songs about Super Mario. Bizarrely Juve were only fined a small amount of money. Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf added another theory to the debate about racism towards Balotelli. The Dutchman said that Juve’s singing was merely a Turin-Milan rivalry, and not racist. Elsewhere in the same weekend, Bologna fans made monkey noises when Balotelli came on to the pitch for Inter. Despite the blatant nature of the incident, Bologna were not punished.
December 2009: As Inter met Juventus, the youngster was once again centre of attention. The abuse he received from the supporters was customary, but it got worse due to the events on the pitch. Juve’s Felipe Melo elbowed Balotelli in the shoulder, but the Inter striker fell down clutching his face, and Melo was red carded. Balotelli’s response was to show-boat for the rest of the match, prompting fury from Juve fans and players alike.
January 2010: As a result of the excessive abuse Balotelli received against Juventus a month earlier, the Old Lady were forced to play three home matches behind closed doors. This did not entirely solve the racism issue, as the Juve fans chanted: “If we jump up and down, Balotelli will die,” whilst at an away match against Chievo.
January 2010: Balotelli’s goal allowed Inter to narrowly beat Chievo. But the teenager received all sorts of terrible abuse throughout the match. “Every time I come here, the abuse is more and more sickening,” Balotelli claimed. As he left the pitch, he ironically clapped the Chievo crowd. For his post-match outburst, the player was fined €7,000.