by George Angelidis, staff reporter
Throughout the history of soccer, what many people call a beautiful game, there has been a lot of racism and discrimination towards players, coaches and even referees that greatly affect this prestigious sport.
This abuse most commonly happens in Europe. Playing professional soccer in Europe is like playing in the NBA or the MLB in the United States; it’s that big of a deal. There is a lot of competition which leads to a lot of tension between rival teams and, sometimes even between own teammates.
“Over the years racism in sports has died down in my opinion but is nowhere close to where it should be at the moment. In every single sport there is still a form or another of racism which is unacceptable,” junior Nikitas Troumouhis said.
Mario Balotelli, a 22 year old promising young talent, who currently plays for Manchester City, is victim to these unnecessary attacks. He was born in Palermo Italy, however he is from Ghanaian descent. His parents Rose and Thomas Barwuah were forced to send young Mario to a foster home at only the age of three, after he became ill with a very uncommon virus. They simply didn’t have the money to care for Mario.
When Mario was four years old, he was adopted by the Balotelli’s, a caring family that saved his life. He was also thankfully treated for the virus that he had, and finally became fully healthy. Mario always had a soccer ball at his foot, it was simply meant to be.
In his youth career, he had great promising talent and when he was only 16 years old he got his first pro contract with Inter, a powerhouse team in Italy at that time. Mario impressed many people with his unique playing style. He became the youngest player to score a Champions League goal when he was just 18 years old, a record that still stands today.
He plays forward and is a goal scoring machine. Many people call him a hybrid player because he is very quick and nimble but, can out muscle the defender and be a dominant physical player at the same time.
He is best known for his unique celebrations that thrill or agitate the crowd such as taking off his shirt, flexing and staring right at the opposing supporters or, most notably, after scoring a key goal against his team’s rival; lifting his uniform over his head which displayed an under-t-shirt that read “Why Always Me,” which just pissed off the supporters even more.
The only bad thing about Balloteli is that he has a bit of a temper issue and when things don’t go his way, he lets it get into his head, which at times affects his play.
For example, after missing a key chance to score in a preseason game, his coach Roberto Manchini a fellow Italian, subbed him of in the 27th minute. Mario was furious at his coach. A verbal confrontation between the two soon followed and Balloteli walked straight into the tunnel and refused to sit with his teammates on the bench.
“When Balotelli is in form he is one of the best players in the world. He lets with temper get the better of him and allows frustration to kick, in and isn’t as productive as he wishes to be when this happens,” freshman Tommy Mastoras said.
When he was only 15 years old and playing for an academy team in Italy, he was furiously booed by the supporters from the other team and there were several monkey chants throughout the stadium mocking young Mario who was the only black player at the field at that time.
When Mario was 17 years, old he was playing in an away game in Palermo with Inter; the same brutal thing would occur. Ironically, Balotelli was born in Palermo and grew up there and was supposed to be a town favorite.
While taking a corner kick a banana was thrown at him and struck him in the back. Surprisingly, he simply picked it up and tossed it to the side and would go on to score a great goal, just minutes later and glared at opposing fans. Balloteli had enough of all the abuse that he is dealing with.
When playing with his current team, Manchester City in an FA cup 4th round game in 2011 against Leeds United, numerous supporters taunted Mario yet again and were constantly using the N word towards him. Right after scoring a goal to make the score 2-0, right after the second half started, he picked up the ball, protested, and told the ref Howard Webb “I refuse to play.”
Mario and his teammates walked off the field, into the lockers rooms, and stood by their striker’s side. The league took action and suspended Leeds United fans for their next three home games due to their actions, and gave Manchester City a 3-0 win via forfeit since the game was never finished.
Even though Mario is a prime target for all this pointless racist abuse, he tries to put it all behind him, play his game, and not let his emotions get the better of him. Every time he scores a goal in an away game, he glares straight at the opposing fans, and shows them who’s laughing now.