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Plea says Bastia fans racially abused teammate Balotelli

January 22, 2017
FILE- In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Nice's forward Mario Balotelli, of Italy, reacts during the Europa League group I soccer match between OGC Nice and FC Salzburg, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. Nice striker Mario Balotelli’s teammate Alassane Pleas has confirmed he heard Bastia supporters racially abusing Balotelli with monkey chants during the league match on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
FILE- In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Nice's forward Mario Balotelli, of Italy, reacts during the Europa League group I soccer match between OGC Nice and FC Salzburg, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. Nice striker Mario Balotelli’s teammate Alassane Pleas has confirmed he heard Bastia supporters racially abusing Balotelli with monkey chants during the league match on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)

PARIS (AP) — Mario Balotelli’s teammate, Alassane Plea, says he heard Bastia supporters racially abusing the Nice striker with monkey chants during Friday night’s league match.

On Saturday, Balotelli described the abuse he heard during the 1-1 draw at the 20,000-capacity Armand Cesari stadium in Corsica, complaining that the French league had not acted swiftly. Plea, who is Balotelli’s strike partner, told French football show Telefoot on Sunday that he heard the abuse.

“Yes, I can confirm it. We heard it during the warmup (and) during the game as well, monkey chants,” Plea said on Telefoot. “At the end of the game he (Balotelli) was very, very upset. They insulted him the whole game. It’s dreadful to hear these things on a football pitch.”

Broadcaster BeIn Sport has released footage which clearly shows a handful of Bastia fans in one section of the stadium racially abusing Balotelli. The footage shows one man standing up and making loud monkey noises while Balotelli was jogging during his warmup.

The French league (LFP) said Saturday night that it had viewed this footage. It has opened an investigation, starting with its disciplinary committee meeting on Thursday with more information to come from officials and both clubs.

Although Bastia said Saturday it was not aware of any such abuse taking place, the Corsican club added that it was at the LFP’s disposal “so that all light is shed” on “this type of behavior, which is by nature stupid and unacceptable.”

Early on Saturday, Balotelli wrote about the abuse he suffered on his Instagram and Twitter pages.

“Is it normal that Bastia supporters make monkey noise (and) ‘uh’ ‘uh’ for the whole game and no one of the ‘commissions discipline’ say nothing?” Balotelli wrote, referencing the LFP’s disciplinary committee. “So is racism legal in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport. Those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible!”

Balotelli, 26, the son of Ghanaian immigrants to Italy, concluded his post by writing in French that what happened was “une vrai honte,” or a total disgrace.

He did not say in his message whether or not he had informed referee Clement Turpin, who had the authority to stop the game, of the crowd’s actions.

Bastia was docked two points by the LFP in the 2007-08 season after its fans racially abused Burkina Faso forward Boubacar Kebe by holding up a banner during a second-division home game against Libourne.

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