Mario Balotelli was the only Italian player to leave the Azzurri’s hotel despite riots in Salvador, one of the Brazilian cities hosting the Confederations Cup where the striker is known for his support of charity organizations.
La Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday quoted coach Cesare Prandelli as saying that Italy had no intention of leaving the tournament despite alerts from authorities as police try to curb widespread protests over funds spent to organize next year’s World Cup.
“Balotelli had a special permit because he looks like one of (the residents),” the coach said, “and because of the things he did here, where he has already been twice.
“It is important that he realizes how lucky he is and that he helps other people.”
Balotelli tweeted during his visit: “I look like a person from Bahia,” as he was greeted by people while walking in the capital of the Brazilian state.
“Everything is quiet and there is nothing to fear,” Balotelli said. “I only fear the journalists,” he joked as he teased reporters who struggled to keep his pace.
The 22-year-old first visited Mata Escura, a favela in Salvador, in 2007, when he began supporting the local charity Acopamec and Italy’s Agata Smeralda with the long-distance adoption of five children.
Balotelli, who was born in Italy to Ghana immigrant parents, was adopted when he was 3 by a family in Concesio, near the northern town of Brescia.