Mario Balotelli: Brescia defend owner Massimo Cellino over comments
Serie A side Brescia have said chairman Massimo Cellino's comments regarding striker Mario Balotelli are "a joke said as a paradox" that was "clearly misunderstood".
Asked why Balotelli had been dropped, ex-Leeds United owner Cellino said: "What can I say? That he's black and he's working to whiten himself but he has great difficulties in this."
Italian Balotelli was racially abused by Verona supporters on 3 November. He was persuaded to remain on the pitch after threatening to walk off.
Balotelli was left out of Sunday's squad by manager Fabio Grosso, who has challenged the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward to show more "determination and enthusiasm" to regain his place.
Responding to Cellino's comments regarding Balotelli's situation on Monday, a club statement read: "In relation to what president Massimo Cellino declared this afternoon about our player Mario Balotelli, Brescia Calcio explains that it was clearly a joke said as a paradox.
"It was clearly misunderstood and it was said in the attempt to downplay an excessive media exposure and aimed at protecting the player."
Brescia, who lost 3-0 to Roma at the weekend, are bottom of Serie A, four points from safety after two wins from their opening 12 matches.
Balotelli has scored two goals in seven appearances since joining his hometown club in August.
He was called "arrogant" by Brescia's ultras group following his reaction to racist abuse from Verona supporters earlier this season.
Verona were handed a one-match partial stadium closure and the club banned one of their leading ultras, Luca Castellini, for more than 10 years after he said Balotelli could "never be completely Italian".