A spokesman for anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said: “Mario’s very presence in the Italian team is symbolic on so many levels. The Italian media ought to champion this individual rather than singling him out as a scapegoat and somehow inferior to his international teammates.”
The drawing — published on the day of Italy’s Euro 2012 meeting with England — showed Balotelli on top of Big Ben in a reference to King Kong on New York’s Empire State Building. It has led to a number of complaints from readers prompting the newspaper to apologise. A statement from Gazzetta read: “Some of our readers have protested regarding (Valerio) Marini’s cartoon.
“Balotelli was depicted as King Kong. We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist.
Balotelli, who has been a reported target of racist chants at Euro 2012, said at the start of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine that if he heard himself being racially abused he would consider walking off the pitch.