Ah, Italy, don’t ever change. That way the rest of Europe can continue feeling superior while ignoring their own difficulties with racism.
During the beauty that was the schedule of mid-week international friendlies, we were once again treated to the (not so) subtle racism of Italian right-wing ultras. As you might surmise, it was directed towards the beleaguered Mario Balotelli.
As Italy was on its way to drawing 1-1 with Romania, the Manchester City striker was booed on his every touch of the ball by a group of 100 Italian supporters.
Presumably, having lost their witty “No to a multi-ethnic national team” banner, the best they could come up with was the Bronx cheer with assorted monkey noises thrown in for good measure. With the match being played in front of only 3,000 fans at HypoArena stadium in Austria, the jeers were clearly audible to everyone on the pitch.
After the match the 20 year-old admitted that he was frustrated by the continued racism aimed at him, noting “[i]f I have to hear those chants every time, you can’t go forward like that.” However, with a measure of maturity that we haven’t really seen before from him, Balotelli also stated that “[i]t wouldn’t be right to stop a game because a few fans that turn up to the stadium behave like that. We need to change these people but it’s not me that has to do it. Where I live, the people don’t reason like these people. A multi-ethnic Italy already exists and we can do better.”
[Ed. Note: Hey wait - what does he mean by "these people"?]
While Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete have condemned the behavior of the fans, the Italian press continues to insist that Balotelli will be returning to play in Serie A next year despite the racism directed at him, noting that he had dinner with AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani after the Milan derby this past weekend.
By most accounts Balotelli was dangerous on the pitch against Romania, creating numerous chances before being replaced by Quagliarella in the 59th minute (why such a quick substitution – he doesn’t need to rest up for EPL action since he’s still serving a suspension) of the match.
So, let’s review, Italy fans:
1. Booing Mario Balotelli for acting like a petulant child on the pitch – ACCEPTABLE.
2. Booing Mario Balotelli for playing more like Mario Lopez on the pitch – ACCEPTABLE.
3. Booing Mario Balotelli for being black – UNACCEPTABLE!
Although, to be fair to the racists, they also booed Argentine-Italian Christian Ledesma.
I mean, look at him, over there to the left. That man is clearly NOT Italian.
What the Azzurri supporters need are some nice young men who are sufficiently white so as to represent their country appropriately.
You know, like Mauro Camoranesi.