All the talk recently about racism in the Ukraine and Poland, with some even calling for many fans to avoid the trip to Euro 2012 has put Mario Balotelli in a position to speak his mind about racism and carry on about being a misunderstood genius.
But before the humor part, we will begin with racism and the fear of how it might shed a dark, ominous shadow on the 2012 Euro. This isn’t the first problem people addressed as the build up to the tournament is almost over. We’re only 10 days away! Besides to political problems and prostitution, there’s also the fear that the ugly cancer in society and specifically in sports will rear up it’s ugly head on the biggest stage of European football.
Martio Balotelli, who will be arriving with the Italian squad after a turmoilous season (with a happy ending) in the Premier League with Manchester City, has no doubt about what he’ll do if he encounters racist chants and remarks during the matches or off the pitch.
I hope that there will not be a problem because I really can’t handle that. I cannot bear racism, it’s unacceptable for me. If it happened again I would straight away leave the pitch and go home. We are in 2012. It can’t happen.
Balotelli has encountered on pitch-racism twice during his career. Once, while playing for Inter against Juventus, hearing it from the Turin fans. He scored a goal in that match, with Juve later punished by playing without fans in their next home match. This season, in a Europa League match against Porto, Balotelli encountered monkey chants from a Porto fan.
I remember very well the Juventus game, but I also scored a goal. I had to pretend I hadn’t seen or heard anything. I wanted to play. I was young. It was up to me to tell the referee, but if I had told the referee to stop the match I wouldn’t have scored. Occasionally, you’re so good that people can’t think of any other way to make you angry.
And there was the disgusting incident in Rome, when he had bananas thrown at him by three people in a Bar - These two or three lads were lucky the police came straight away because, I swear, I would have given them a proper kicking. I would truly have destroyed them. I hope that doesn’t happen again.
I’m black and proud to have African roots. I think I’m lucky to be black. People say about me that I’m a black boy who has fun, earns money and has girls. It’s not like that. It’s too easy to judge people through what you see.
But Balotelli had more to say recently than just address racism. He did score 13 goals this season for Manchester City, but he had more than his share of dark and sometimes evil moments. He got sent off twice during the season in the league, making it four red cards since signing with Manchester City. He should have gotten more in certain cases if the referee wouldn’t have missed the act.
For Balotelli, in his opinion, it’s a day to day struggle about coping physically and mentally with the talent he’s been given - I think I am a genius, but not a rebel. I have my life, my world, I do what I want, without annoying anyone. I believe I am more intelligent than the average person. It is said that geniuses are misunderstood. So perhaps genius is so different that people don’t understand.
The talent God gave me is beautiful and wonderful, but it is difficult because you are always facing other people keen to judge you. There are few people with such talent, so there are few able to judge what I am doing.
Balotelli might be a genius, maybe he’s not. But he is right about the struggles of coping with talent and expectations sometimes getting the best of him, and others. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the perfect example in my opinion, although Ibra seems to have it under control most of the time, making him the best striker in the world when focused. Balotelli is only 21, with a bit too much of an ego and opinion of himself. If he focuses on working to reach his goal – becoming the best in the world, winning the Ballon d’Or, maybe we won’t raise our eyebrows next time he talks about being a genius.