Police investigate racist abuse tweeted at Mario Balotelli in response to Man United comment

 (AP Photo/Jon Super)
(AP Photo/Jon Super)

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was subjected to a torrent of racist abuse simply for tweeting "Man utd...LOL" in response to Leicester's 5-3 win over Manchester United on Sunday and now the Merseyside police are investigating the matter. Balotelli's message racked up over 150,000 retweets within a few hours — a massive amount even for someone with over three million followers on the social network — and many of the initial response were racial insults that included the n-word and referred to Balotelli as a "monkey."

Once these vile messages were highlighted and called out by others on Twitter, many of the offending tweets and the accounts they came from were quickly deleted. But that won't stop the police from attempting to track down the people behind them.

From the BBC:

Police say they will first need to establish who sent the messages and where they originated from.

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said other social media users alerted it to the racist tweets sent to the former Manchester City player.

"We extend our support to Mario Balotelli after the appalling racist abuse directed at him," a spokesman said.

"We have since reported this via True Vision  - the Police's online reporting facility.

The 24-year-old Italian international has been a frequent target of racist abuse over the years — not only from opposing fans, but the brother of his former boss, and even newspaper cartoonists. And though this latest incident is getting a lot of attention, this is far from the first time he's been racially abused on social media. It just isn't usually highlighted as it is this time around.

Balotelli spoke on the matter earlier this year in an interview with GQ (via ESPN):

"I have made mistakes, like everyone does, and I have always paid for my mistakes. I think that if I was white maybe some people would still find me irritating or annoying but it wouldn't be the same. Absolutely not.

"Jealousy is a horrible thing, but when this jealousy is towards people who are different from the majority, and who maybe also have more than you, then it becomes anger, it becomes rage, and that's the overt racism."

"People are fighting this thing, and it's important," he said. "But in the media every time I have talked about this subject people talk about it for three or four days but then everything goes back to normal.

"So, either there is something really strong for all of us to do, some real movement or real action, and in that case I will be the first guy to participate, but if it's just talk, I'd rather not."

It's beyond depressing to know that so many people's first reaction to reading "Man Utd LOL" is to reply with a volley of racial slurs, but hopefully making it clear that responses like these can't be dismissed as mere "banter" will help curtail it.

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Brooks Peck

is the editor of Dirty Tackle on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow on Twitter!