Balotelli 'most targeted player for hate crimes'

Research undertaken by anti-racism organisation Kick It Out revealed that Liverpool striker Balotelli had been the target of discriminatory posts over 8,000 times between August 2014 and March this year.

More than half of the messages aimed at the Italian were racist.

Approximately 19,000 discriminatory posts were directed at Balotelli's club, although Chelsea were the team most affected – receiving roughly 20,000.

The findings of posts on Facebook, Twitter, club forums and blogs suggested that over 134,000 offensive messages had been sent this season, averaging out at one "abusive mention" every two-and-a-half minutes.

"This is a huge amount of awful abuse," Kick It Out's chief executive Roisin Wood said. 

"A lot of it is vile, and something needs to be done. We are really frustrated by the police response but we also understand that they cannot investigate all of this. 

"We have to take it seriously and that is why we are inviting the relevant bodies and authorities to work together to find ways of addressing it."

Kick It Out also outlined their intention to form a group including football chiefs, social media managers and the police in an attempt to stamp out incidents.

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