Italian mafia investigators to approach Mario Balotelli

By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan

image captionMario Balotelli has said he is completely relaxed about answering any questions

Anti-mafia investigators in Italy want to interview Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli over a visit he made to a known mafia hot spot in Naples.

Prosecutors say they want to interview him over possible contacts he may have had unwittingly with the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, last year.

The move is part of a wider investigation into money laundering.

There is no suggestion Balotelli has committed any crime. He says he is very relaxed about answering any questions.

The investigators' approach comes after Balotelli was photographed in the company of a couple of known Camorra gangsters as he toured one of the most deprived, violent and crime-ridden parts of Naples.

Earlier this week Balotelli was given a hero's welcome when he visited a prison in Florence with other members of the Italy squad.

Born in Italy to Ghanaian parents - but adopted by an Italian family when he was still a child - he is one of the very few black players to have pulled on the famous blue shirt of the Italian national team.

Throughout his playing career in Italy he was consistently the target of racist abuse by a minority of fans.

He is not the first footballer to mingle with the mob.

Arguably the greatest player of all - the Argentinian, Diego Maradona - was well-known for his allegedly close relationship with several Camorra godfathers during his time playing for Napoli in the 1980s.

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