Racism in Italy reared its ugly head again after Mario Balotelli briefly walked off in protest at being called a monkey by Hellas Verona fans.

The former Manchester City striker who now plays for Brescia was competing for the ball at a corner flag in front of the home supporters when he received the abuse.

He angrily picked up the ball while it was still in play,  kicked it into the crowd and walked off despite protests from Verona players.

His team mates had to persuade him to continue to play after an announcement was made to the home supporters.

Balotelli had threatened to walk off if he was again subjected to racial abuse back in 2013 when he was playing for AC Milan.

After Sunday’s game, he took to instagram and wrote, “to those ‘people’ in the Curva who made monkey noises at me… Shame on you. Shame on you.

“Thank you to all my colleagues on the pitch and off for the solidarity expressed and for all the messages I have received from fans. You proved yourselves to be real men, not like those who deny the evidence.” He concluded, apparently referring to Verona’s manager, Ivan Juric, who insisted there was no racial abuse during the game.

“I’m not afraid to say today there was nothing. Lots of whistling and teasing against a great player, but there was nothing else,” Juric had said.

“I have also taken so many insults over the years, I know what it means – but today there has been nothing. Today I heard nothing. We don’t create a case where there isn’t, it would be a lie.”

Brescia have also issued a statement calling out Verona’s management for “an attempt to deny or minimise the gravity of the incident.”