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Verona handed partial stadium ban for Balotelli racial abuse

ROME (AP) — Hellas Verona will have part of its stadium closed for one match as punishment for its fans racially abusing Mario Balotelli. The Brescia striker threatened to leave the field because of the racist chants directed at him by Verona fans during Sunday's match, which was suspended for several minutes.

The league said Tuesday that Verona's "poltrone est" — the sector where the chants came from — will be closed for one match. The league said the chants "were clearly audible" but added that there were chants of support and applause from other parts of the ground.

Balotelli, who is black, was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants and has represented the Italian national team. He recently returned to Serie A after several seasons in France. It was the second time in the same weekend that a Serie A game was suspended for offensive chants. Roma supporters aimed anti-territorial chants at Napoli on Saturday.

Roma was fined 30,000 euros ($33,000), with the league saying the punishment would have been more severe had it not been for the "active and efficient behavior" of Roma captain Edin Dzeko, who urged the fans to stop.

Derogatory chants have also been aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly in Serie A this season. There was also a case of racist chants aimed by Verona fans at AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie in September.

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