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Brescia's Mario Balotelli walks onto the field during a Serie A soccer match between Brescia and Torino at the Mario Rigamonti Stadium in Brescia, Italy.

The Canadian Press

Three leaders of the extreme-right Forza Nuova political party were stopped by police Tuesday for putting up a racist banner aimed at Brescia striker Mario Balotelli.

The banner, which read “Mario you’re right, you’re an African,” was posted on a fence outside Juventus’s Allianz Stadium in Turin last month. The words “Mario” and “African” were written in red, with the other words in black.

The banner also featured a logo for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party.

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The three Forza Nuova members face accusations of spreading racial hatred and were banned from Italy’s sports stadiums.

The banner was put up in the aftermath of a national debate over racism after Balotelli angrily kicked a ball into the stands out of frustration because of discriminatory chants during a game at Hellas Verona.

Balotelli, who is black, was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants and has represented the Italian national soccer team. He was also the subject of a racist remark by the Brescia club president recently.

“I am not saying that I am different from the other players who receive the same abuse, the same monkey noises, but the problem is that I am Italian,” Balotelli said after the Verona incident.

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