Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has been criticised by anti-racism campaigners after they ran a cartoon depicting Mario Balotelli as King Kong.
The drawing, which was published the day England played Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-final, depicted Balotelli on top of Big Ben - a take on King Kong perched on top of New York's Empire State Building.
The Manchester City striker is believed to have been unhappy at the cartoon and a number of readers complained, with the paper later issuing a formal apology.
A spokesman for anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said: "Mario's very presence in the Italian team is symbolic on so many levels.
"The Italian media ought to champion this individual rather than singling him out as a scapegoat and somehow inferior to his international team-mates."
An earlier statement from Gazzetta read: "Some of our readers have protested regarding [Valerio] Marini's cartoon.
"Balotelli was depicted as King Kong. We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist.
"At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted.
"The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise.
"But those that accuse Gazzetta [and poor Marini] of racism are going overboard.
"This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility."