There's a story going around that Mario Balotelli was reduced to tears after being subjected to racist chants in Italy today. This would not be shocking—there is a history here—but it's not at all clear that racism was behind his tears.
Balotelli was subbed out today against Napoli and was then seen crying on the bench. His manager, Clarence Seedorf, responded to questions about the crying but didn't mention anything about chants.
"We are players and there are times when we express ourselves that way. I see nothing wrong or abnormal in that. I experienced it at times too," the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
"He too needs to grow in general. He played very well against Cagliari, while tonight perhaps didn't make the most of the space. These are things we can all improve on and I'm happy he has so many areas to improve, as I can help him through that education."
That sounds more like a manager defending his player's reaction to being yanked than it does laying the blame at racism. Seedorf is black and also played for Milan, so it is possible when he said "I experienced it at times too" that he was referring to race. But that second paragraph makes it seem just as likely that he was referring to the experience of struggling as professional athlete. Seedorf also said Balotelli cried "the tears of a sportsman."
As best we can tell, this become a story about racism based on a couple of tweets, one of which has since been deleted, and a vine.
Hearing reports Mario Balloteli was racially abused at the game tonight that was why he was crying. Racism is disgusting. #KickItOut
— The Away Fans (@theawayfans) February 8, 2014
Mario Balotelli crying on the bench due to racist chanting at him. Disgraceful! https://t.co/e0DpuFxZ9p
— Football Vines (@FootbalIVines) February 8, 2014
His teammate, Ignazio Abate further debunked the racism theory.
"Mario really cares about doing well with Milan and making his mark. He is sentimental. It's a shame that he got so downhearted about it, as he needs to keep his head up."
So, while racism in European soccer is definitely a thing, this is probably not.