Chants about Balotelli a sign of respect, says Cannavaro

Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro believes supporters chant at Mario Balotelli because they “fear and respect” the Milan striker.

The Italy international has been frequently targeted by groups of opposing fans since his return to Serie A in January, with Roma issued a fine last season due to offensive singing within the stands while Inter supporters also verbally abused the forward during February’s Milan derby.

The former Manchester City man was again subjected to chants by Juventus fans despite not playing for the Rossoneri in their 3-2 defeat in Turin, but Cannavaro the striker should take the the abuse as a compliment.

“[Balotelli chants are caused by] fear, perhaps respect. He has an attitude they don’t like, then he is strong and opponents are scared of him. That’s why they goad him,” Cannavaro wrote in Gazzetta dello Sport.

Milan CEO Adriano Galliani was furious after his side was handed a stadium ban following insulting chants against Neapolitans and Cannavaro agrees that the actions of the minority of fans are motivated by “stupidity” rather than racial hatred.

“The insults are not racism, but stupidity. I’ve been called a ‘southerner’ a thousand times, and [Lilian] Thuram once told me, ‘Calm down Fabio, they’re insulting me more than you today’ when were playing in Verona,” the 40-year-old added.