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Italy planning World Cup social networking ban

ESPN staff
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Italy are planning a ban on the use of social networks at next summer's World Cup in a bid to avoid drawing any unnecessary and unwanted attention.

Forward Mario Balotelli hit the headlines again this week for a provocative tweet, and coach Cesare Prandelli hopes his side will be hitting the headlines for all the right reasons in Brazil, especially the AC Milan striker.

"He [Balotelli] has his way of doing things and sometimes he realises he's got things wrong and he takes a step backwards, although he's never really created us any huge problems," Prandelli told Rai television. "I know he's always under pressure and that he's a lad who needs to live like a 23-year-old, but on the other hand, he's a worldwide personality and he's got to accept this pressure."

With all eyes on him, and the media waiting for his next provocation, Prandelli admits that rather than trying to change Balotelli, it would be easier to deprive him of one of the ways he tends to get himself into trouble. "We're studying new, stricter internal rules," Prandelli said. "Mario's never going to change, we've got to get that into our heads.

"We're considering abolishing the use of social networks on the part of the players. We'll have to see whether we apply it now, but certainly the restriction will be in place when we get together for the World Cup."

Prandelli's plan has received the approval of Italian FA vice-president Demetrio Albertini.

"We will find rules which we will share with the players which have a balance between the freedom of expression, private life and professional activities, which all need a correct form of communication," Albertini told La Repubblica.

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