Mancini says he wants Balotelli back with Italy on merits
FLORENCE, Italy (AP) -- Italy coach Roberto Mancini says he prefers to recall Mario Balotelli for his qualities as a player, not as a message against racism.
Balotelli has not been called up by Mancini in more than a year but Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina has said naming him in the squad would send a strong message after the Brescia forward was racially abused recently.
Mancini said Monday that “if Balotelli gets another chance, it will be because he deserves it from a technical point of view.”
Balotelli was included in Mancini’s first two squads but again was omitted from upcoming European qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Armenia.
Balotelli has long said his goal is to rejoin the national team for next year’s European Championship.
The 29-year-old striker has scored two goals in seven matches this season.