Children born in Italy who have non-Italian parents have to wait until 18 before they can become Italian citizens.
Reflecting usage by the broader Italian public, Italian mainstream media often use clichés long shunned in other cultures to refer to foreigners. For example, it is not uncommon for news stories to refer to Chinese on second, or even first reference as those “people with almond-shaped eyes.”
As more Italians travel abroad, and as their children increasingly sit side-by-side in classrooms with immigrants’ offspring — who speak Italian like the locals and root for Italy’s soccer teams — sensitivity to racial and ethnic slurs is slowing growing.
Balotelli was often the target of racial chants from opposing fans when he played for Inter, AC Milan’s cross-town rival. Juventus fans once hung a banner saying, “Black Italians don’t exist.”
But there are concrete signs of progress.
Last month, Balotelli’s new teammates at Berlusconi’s squad walked off the field during a friendly after racist chants were directed at midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is from Ghana.
Balotelli made no immediate public comment about Paolo Berlusconi, the vice-president of AC Milan, describing him as the household’s “little black boy.” But he has been cautiously optimistic about changing attitudes toward blacks on a continent where they are relatively recently new arrivals in large numbers.
“Racism is very tough to fight,” Balotelli said recently. “I really don’t know how to defeat it. You need to keep firm and sooner or later we’ll win,” he said.
On Sunday, at the game Paolo Berlusconi set out to watch, Balotelli scored both of his new team’s goals in a 2-1 win over Udinese.