The French Football League (LFP) has opened a formal investigation into alleged racist abuse aimed at Mario Balotelli last weekend with the final report to be published in mid-March.
The LFP had already announced it would look more closely at the facts surrounding Balotelli’s claim that he was the target of monkey chants during Nice’s 3-2 defeat at Dijon last weekend.
After their weekly sitting on Thursday, the LFP’s Disciplinary Commission announced via its official website it had decided “to put the matter under investigation. The designated investigator will deliver their conclusions at the sitting on Thursday 15 March, 2018.”
For the moment, the yellow card Balotelli received for making a gesture towards Dijon fans in the wake of the alleged incident still stands.
Match referee Nicolas Rainville said he had not heard any insults when he booked Balotelli, but insisted had he done so, he would never have shown the former Manchester City and Liverpool striker a yellow card.
Rainville has come in for criticism following the incident with the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) making an official complaint to police over his actions. The body claimed the official’s lack of action against the insults and punishment of Balotelli made him “complicit” in racism.
That claim was dismissed as “ridiculous and scandalous” by France’s refereeing chief, Pascal Garibian.
Balotelli made similar claims of being racially abused by Bastia supporters last season. After an LFP probe, the Corsican club received a suspended one-point deduction and a partial stadium closure for three games.
The incident had prompted a dismayed Balotelli to ask: “So is racism legal in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport. Those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible!”
Ian is ESPN’s French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman