Italy’s World Cup preparations have been marred by controversies after AC Milan striker was reportedly quoted as saying that he heard racial abuse from fans. Cesare Prandelli’s side have conglomerated in Florence in lieu of their preparations of the showcase event where they take on England in Manus in their first game of the tournament.

Local Police were forced to intervene after a small group of fans were heard protesting and racially abusing Balotelli, who has been a controversial figure right throughout the foregone season. Balotelli could be heard to say: “Only in Rome and Florence are they that stupid.”

Team mate Ciro immobile who has enjoyed a stunning season in the Serie A claimed that its not great for Italy that players are abused and that the whole team represents the emotions of the people. Other players have also been angered over the incident.

“It saddens me. To be hearing racist insults from people, whether you’re yellow, black or white, is just unacceptable. Fortunately, Mario let it pass over him and he got on with his training. But we as players should do more to help stamp this out.  “When I hear that it saddens me, because I have a lot of pride in my city. To hear fans shouting, ‘Wash them with the lava from Mount Vesuvius’ isn’t very pleasant.”

Excerpts from Telegraph: Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants and brought up by an Italian foster family. He has faced racist chants throughout his professional career in Italy at Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma.

Italy will play the Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage on May 31 and then have a friendly in Perugia against Luxembourg on June 4 before travelling to their World Cup base near Rio de Janeiro.