Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport have issued an apology after they published a cartoon depicting Mario Balotelli as King Kong.
The Manchester City forward featured in the cartoon on the top of Big Ben, swatting away footballs after Italy's win over England on Sunday at the European Championship.
A 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.''
Balotelli, who has been a reported target of racist chants at Euro 2012, said at the start of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine that if he heard himself being racially abused he would consider walking off the pitch.