Mario Balotelli: Magnet for Controversy

Jun 7, 2020

Life Stories

Mario Balotelli

Beginnings

Mario Barwuah was born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1990. His parents were from Ghana in West Africa. The family moved to Italy, to Brescia when he was two; they could not afford to pay for his health care, so he was given to foster parents Silvia and Francesco Balotelli, and gained Italian citizenship. Mario made his debut in professional football aged 16; by 2007 he had been signed by Inter Milan.

International Star

Mario Balotelli made a big impact at Inter. His manager, Roberto Mancini, believed in him. Mario scored goals in big matches and was selected for Italy at Under-21 and senior level. But a new manager, Jose Mourinho, often left him out of the team. Balotelli followed Roberto Mancini to Manchester City and helped them win the league title in 2012. He played for Italy in the 2012 Euros and the 2014 World Cup, and secured a big-money transfer to Liverpool. He was still only 24.

The ‘Problem Child’

In 2014 it seemed Mario Balotelli was bound to be a major star. He had already suffered from racist abuse in Italy; and was dogged by controversy and lack of stability. He moved from Liverpool to Milan, then Nice, Marseille and Brescia. He did well at Nice but there was a major racist incident in 2017 when he was the target for monkey chants by SC Bastia fans. Balotelli was sent off for complaining to the referee!

Thinking points

Mario Balotelli has had high points in his career. He played for Italy, including the 2012 Euros and the 2014 World Cup; he also helped Manchester City win the Premier League in 2012. But Balotelli has had low points, too. Managers, such as Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini, have fallen out with him. There have been bizarre off-field incidents. He became a footballing “rolling stone”, playing for ten different clubs by the age of 29.

Educators could look at the life story of Mario Balotelli and work with young people to consider this question:

  1. How much of this instability was due to his own failings; how much has it been due to negative attitudes to a young man of African heritage in a game often scarred by racism?
  2. What does Balotelli’s life tell us about difficulties faced by Black players in Europe?

Find out more

One of the many interesting video shorts made about Mario Balotelli is this CNN interview in which he discussed his experience with racism.

COVER Image

Mario Balotelli at Euro 2012 match against England (Photo: Илья Хохлов, Wikimedia Commons)

Mario Balotelli playing for Italy in the 2012 Euros, match against England (Photo: Илья Хохлов, Wikimedia Commons).

Life Story

Mario Balotelli was bound to be a major star, but he faced a turbulent career as a young player. Racist abuse and many controversies are etched in his career. His story is one of racism, diversity and a reminder that Football has some way to go still.

11

Article Tags:   discrimination  |   diversity  |   migration  |   racism  |   well-being

Do you wanna know more?

HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS

Stories

Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.

Videos

Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.

Educational Resources

Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.

Trending Stories

LATEST POST  You may also be interested in

Seen from the Valley

Seen from the Valley

Football in India arose from the presence of British troops, but the game that could unite, was later eclipsed by cricket. A local story from India.

October in Football

October in Football

As the UEFA 2020 European Championships got pushed ahead one year, we provide you with a 365-day #onthisday series of posts to help all fans out there to go back in time, think, and reflect.

Share This