Italy striker Mario Balotelli was criticised by Italian media on Monday for missing a meeting with the country’s Minister for Integration, Cecile Kyenge.
Balotelli was said to have remained in his hotel room in Turin on Sunday morning as Ms. Kyenge, a native of the Republic of the Congo, met national team coach Cesare Prandelli, football federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete, and six players.
Angelo Ogbonna, who was born in Italy to Nigerian parents, and Stephan El Shaarawy, whose father is Egyptian, were two of the players who attended the meeting and gave their Azzurri shirts to the minister.
The Azzurri are in Turin for a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday against the Czech Republic.
Italian media called the AC Milan striker’s behaviour “an own goal” and “a gaffe,” while FIGC said that the meeting was informal and recalled that Balotelli met Ms. Kyenge before an international game in May and donated her his jersey.
Balotelli was said to have apologised to Ms. Kyenge later in the day via a telephone message, according to media reports.