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Italy manager apologizes for Balotelli race “joke”

Jun 21, 2013, 8:27 PM EDT

Italy Training And Press Conference Getty Images

Cesare Prandelli’s unfortunate sense of humor got the better of him earlier today, and he’s come clean about it.

Amid the increasingly unsafe environment in Brazil, the players were barred from leaving the hotel by security advisers Friday as Italy prepared for its match against Brazil the following day.

Prandelli made a “joke” (feel free to throw air quotes around that one) that striker Mario Balotelli was the only one allowed to leave the hotel because his “color is different to ours.”

The real reason Balotelli was permitted to exit the premises was that he was involved in children’s charity work in the poorest areas of the Brazilian city of Salvador.

Prandelli later apologized for his comments, saying they were made in jest and that Balotelli left for a good cause. “I’m sorry. It was a joke. Of course.”

Prandelli continued to commend the work his star striker was doing. “Before I said something about the colour of our skin, I am glad we clarified that issue about why he was the only one allowed out” said Prandelli. “He was surrounded by all these people but he was working with a charity and doing something nice.”

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