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Mario Balotelli: Villain or Victim?

Posted by Aymen Gheddai Thursday, April 22, 2021

The San Siro was in a state of jubilation for virtually two straight hours during the Inter versus Barcelona match with the exception of a few episodes. The first incident was of course conceding a goal to Barcelona while the other moments all revolved around enfant terrible, Mario Balotelli. When Diego Milito, scorer of one goal on the night, was substituted for Balotelli the Inter fans were a bit subdued. It was after Balotelli struck an audacious long range volley, however, which actually appeared to have Victor Valdes rather concerned, that things really turned sour. In spite of the effort being decent, and Inter leading 3-1, the fans began booing Balotelli vociferously.

As a result the young striker responded with a tirade of abuses toward the Curva Nord. At the end of the match, the stadium erupted and the Inter players were ecstatic, well all except for the Inter number 45. While everyone tied to Inter was celebrating, Balotelli took off his jersey, threw it on the ground, and stormed off toward the tunnel with some choice words for the Inter tifosi.

The drama persisted behind the scenes as Balotelli had a heated discussion with Marco Materazzi, and players like Stankovic and Zanetti made some disparaging comments regarding their team mate to the press. While Zanetti only said Balotelli's actions ruined the celebrations, Stankovic, who actually picked up the thrown jersey, went a step further by claiming Balotelli was a child. As if that was not enough drama, Inter fans confronted Balotelli while he went to his car, with only the stadium security coming between them. Alas, when asked about the striker's behavior, Inter owner Moratti said action would be taken to discipline him.

Balotelli has received massive attention from the media this season, and despite his abundance of skill, the majority of focus has been about non-footballing matters. Whether it is about Juve fans randomly chanting anti-Balotelli songs even when they are not playing Inter, or his numerous clashes with Jose Mourinho, Balotelli has been depicted as a spoiled brat. Quite honestly, that seems to be the easy route to take in dealing with this issue. No matter how gifted a player is, as long as they do not feel that critical support from their team all that talent goes to waste. Antonio Cassano is a perfect example of this. Without digressing too much, it was only of late that Cassano rediscovered his great form because of the love he felt at Sampdoria.

Similarly Balotelli needs to feel that appreciation as well. When Roberto Mancini brought him through the ranks he felt the coach's backing and duly repaid that by performing at the top of his game. With Mourinho in charge for the past two seasons, however, things have changed. As a result of not fitting directly into the coach's "system" and way of doing things, Balotelli has clashed with his boss on many occasions and found himself even dropped from the squad list for big matches. Of course Mourinho routinely blames Balotelli's attitude during training as the cause, but it seems more likely that the two just lack an affinity for each other.

It would do his critics a world of good to picture a moment in Balotelli's shoes. Despite being born in Palermo and raised in Brescia, Balotelli resides in a country that does not have any black indigenes. This must have resulted in a difficult upbringing for the young Italian of Ghanaian origins. While his adopted family undoubtedly showed him affection, the same cannot be necessarily expected from the public. Even a country like France, which possesses a large number of immigrants, does not always show full support to the black players on the national team, considering the comments made by French politician Jean Marie Le Pen.

That puts things into perspective when discussing Balotelli. With Italy having had problems in the past allowing Oriundi (white players from South America with Italian ancestry) to play for La Nazionale, imagine how Balotelli feels as a black Italian. Unfortunately Italy has had to contend with racism in football, and Balotelli has been on the receiving end of such despicable sentiments. It should not be forgotten that he also has to endure endless abuse from opposing fans, even if they are not racist, and he is only 19 years of age. In spite of the immense pressure he is under at such a tender age, Mourinho, and now his team mates, are showing a lack of support for Balotelli through their public comments.

There is no doubt that Super Mario has a bit of a petulant streak, but once again he needs to be supported as much as possible. Afterall this is a player with no shortage of talent, strength, pace, and essentially any other attribute a top footballer requires to be successful. With teams like Manchester City and Arsenal paying close attention to developments, Balotelli does not lack suitors. He is not the first footballer to clash with his coach, but for Mourinho it is the first clear situation of a player testing his authority. As for the Inter fans, their anger toward Balotelli is partially instigated by the fact that he is known to be a Milan fan, but that does not seem to affect his effort on the pitch so maybe a line should be drawn on their part. With regard to his team mates, the most effective way of dealing with team issues is for them to keep things within the dressing room.

Balotelli should should be highly cautious with his actions as possessing potential remains just that until it is realized. He has not accomplished anything just yet, and the sooner he sees that he needs his team to do so the better he will be for it. As for Inter, despite having numerous superstars, they only stand to lose a great talent if they do not show their player the support he is due. Only time will tell whether both player and team can coexist.

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  1. Hi, I'm the admin of Sport City. I would like to inform you that i trasferred the blog to STADIOGOAL at If you like, we can make anexchange of links with my new one...let me know if you are interested in it...thanks...have a good day

  2. Jay Said:
  3. Great post Aymen. I agree that it appears some fans dislike him for all the wrong reasons. Did you hear the fans chanting something negative to Milito when he missed the goal early in the game? Maybe there were some, but they were not as loud On the other side Balotelli needs to understand that being in the spotlight that he is in, he can't let the fans on any side get under his skin. I can understand being young, but the only way he is going to prove any of them wrong is to get on the field and play. I think it is sad that some fans even on the home side, will chant or spread banners against him for the color of his skin. Those people are ignorant, and I bet they would change their tune if he was scoring game winning goals. I am sure that some of the Inter coaching staff and team members have spoken with him, but it seems that he wants to react with anger instead of skill. He has a lot of talent, and even though I am not an Inter fan I love to watch him play.

  4. Dogonyaro Said:
  5. Very nice article Aymo. I must say i've enjoyed this the best. It sounds like Balotelli needs to take advantage of being on the same team as Eto'o. If you are not happy where you are or getting support, why are you playing for them? Leaving seems like the best option for both sides in this scenario.

  6. Aymen Said:
  7. Riccardo- thank you for letting me know about that. I would be interested in an exchange of links, just let me know when you are ready to swap information.

    Jay- I appreciate the feedback, of course everyone is entitled to their various opinions, and I can respect the points you made. I really do feel it's a tough one because he does exhibit some childish tendencies, but he is still somewhat of a child on a massive platform so in a lot of respects he does not know any better. Unfortunately those that do (his team) are not showing the necessary patience Balotelli requires to grow as a man and a footballer. This in turn influences the fans somewhat which results in added pressure when the opposite is what is needed.

    Dogonyaro- I think you are right about both parties needing to part ways. Things have reached rather toxic levels. To Eto'o's credit he has tried to be a positive influence over Balotelli, but I think the environment is the main issue.

  8. Anonymous Said:
  9. People in charge are always responsible. I blame Mourinho for mismanaging the player. The "special one" is just a mirage. He has no people skills and only seems to excel at manipulating others. It will all unravel wednesday at Camp Nou ...

  10. Anonymous Said:
  11. Im tired of using youth as an excuse for having no common sense.
    Academy players are drilled daily on the way to behave and what is expected, its not like he just fell out of a tree.
    I AM POSITIVE that every player 10 years old an over knows that throwing your shirt on the field is NOT acceptable.
    But as with many gifted players, their little tantrums are overlooked because the talent is just too tempting. That of course is a short term solution but it always bites you in the end. To top it off, he hasnt had a father or father figure to teach him lifes lessons and even with veterans like Stankovic, Etoo and captain Zanetti and yes Materazzi, he still has no guidance.
    Listening to his manager talk you can see that the leach is nothing more than an enabler who will never sit his client down and give him a good talking to, instead he helps fuel the fire.
    As for Mourinho, he is a great coach but we all know he is a gypsy who is only at Inter for a few years, he has no time for babysitting duties and honestly, I dnt blame him.
    He was hired to take the best professionals in the world and win titles with them and a coach wins on his terms and no one elses. Its jarring for someone who has been allowed to misbehave his whole life to find that the party is over.

    That should have been done a long time ago with the help of child psychologist and mental health expert.

    I am positive though that had Balotelli been playing for Sir Alex Ferguson, he wouldnt have dare pull that crap. The old man would have booted his ass out of the first practice he tried to pull his act.
    Wearing a jersey is an honour, you dont deserve anything, you have to prove you are worthy.
    And if you have all the manners of a wild animal with no social skills, thats tough.
    In the real world, your boss at McDonald s wont put up with that crap either.
    Heck, Im sure that at the bank I work in, he wouldnt be able to misbehave but in the peter pan world of sports, we allow them to be little kids wth big bank accounts.

    He might learn but honestly I dont care anymore.
    No team needs this much drama.


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