Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Mancini says he wants Balotelli back with Italy on merits

Italy Training Session And Press Conference

VINOVO, ITALY - JUNE 02: Head coach Italy Roberto Mancini (L) and Mario Balotelli chat during a Italy training session at Juventus Center Vinovo on June 2, 2018 in Vinovo, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Getty Images

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.