OGC Nice says their Italian striker Mario Balotelli was the victim of racist abuse during their 3-2 defeat at Dijon in Ligue 1.

Nice's Italian forward Mario Balotelli (R) talks with French referee Nicolas Rainville (L) during the French L1 football match between Dijon (DFCO) and Nice (OGCN) on February 10, 2018, at the Gaston Gerard Stadium in Dijon, central France.
Nice's Italian forward Mario Balotelli (R) talks with French referee Nicolas Rainville (L) during the French L1 football match between Dijon (DFCO) and Nice (OGCN) on February 10, 2018, at the Gaston Gerard Stadium in Dijon, central France. (AFP)

OGC Nice said their Italian striker Mario Balotelli was the victim of racist abuse during their 3-2 defeat at Dijon in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

"Mario Balotelli got a yellow card... after being annoyed by racist insults from the crowd," Nice said on their official Twitter account.

The alleged incident happened in the second half as Balotelli was talking to referee Baptiste Reynet, pointing his fingers at the crowd.

"I told Mario that I hadn't heard racist insults but he told me that he had," Reynet told French sports daily L'Equipe on Sunday.

"It would have come from two or three spectators."

Dijon coach Olivier Dall'Oglio told L'Equipe, "It is the first time we're hearing this at Gaston Gerard (stadium). There have never been racism problems here.

"If it happened, it is totally inappropriate. But I didn't hear anything."

Local newspaper Nice Matin in its match report said that Balotelli's booking was for his reaction to the Dijon fans, after which he had "alerted the fourth official to the alleged abuse".

Series of racist chants

It would not be the first time Balotelli, 27, has been targeted by racist abuse, in France and beyond.

Last season some Bastia fans hurled insults at the former Liverpool, Inter Milan and AC Milan forward, who is of Ghanaian origin.

He was the target of racist chanting back in his homeland with Juventus fans accused numerous times, as well as Inter supporters when he was playing against his old club for their city rivals Milan.

Before Euro 2012, Balotelli had threatened to "walk off the pitch" if he was abused by fans in Poland or Ukraine.

That came after the BBC aired a documentary showing hardline ultra fans in both countries making Nazi salutes and monkey chants.

The Croatian Football Federation was fined during that tournament for racist abuse by fans directed at Balotelli, while UEFA also investigated Spain following their match with Italy.

In 2014, British police investigated offensive remarks directed at Balotelli on Twitter.

Source: AFP