ROME, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Italy's soccer players will be banned from using Twitter and other social media at the World Cup in Brazil next year, coach Cesare Prandelli said on Tuesday.
"New...rules will come into force, and they will be more stringent," Prandelli told RAI Sport. "We are looking at banning the use of social networks for players... The restriction will definitely be in force for the World Cup training camp."
The ban comes after maverick AC Milan and Italy striker Mario Balotelli ran into a storm when he used his Twitter feed to distance himself from a suggestion by the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that he should see himself as a role model in the fight against the Mafia.
Balotelli's tweet prompted a leading anti-Mafia campaigner, Rosaria Capacchione, to label the player an "imbecile", while Italian soccer federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete sympathised with him for always being "in the eye of the cyclone".
Italy, who play Armenia in Naples later on Tuesday, have already qualified for the World Cup. (Reporting by Terry Daley; Editing by Clare Fallon)