By TAYMOUR MOWAFAK
Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli, also known as “Super Mario” in the soccer world, recently posted an image from the computer game Super Mario on his Instagram page with the caption “Don’t be a racist.” The post read: “Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican.” He then went on to describe Mario as a Black man and a Jewish person. Although the 24-year-old player was trying to send an anti-racist message, he inadvertently insulted Blacks and Jews. After people criticized the post, he deleted it before tweeting that his mother was Jewish. He later issued a statement to apologize, explaining he was trying to be “anti-racist with humor.”
On the day Liverpool Football Club signed Balotelli, Coach Brendan Rodgers was asked about Balotelli’s reputation for attracting trouble at his former Premier League club. “I spent three-and-a-half hours just talking him [Balotelli] through Liverpool,” said the Liverpool coach in a press conference. “It’s a massive club and it’s a different club. It’s a family club with strong family values and ethics over many years. Behavior is very important here.”
Balotelli removed the post immediately after it went public. He also described reposting the image as “my unlucky moment,” and later said on his Instagram page, “I apologize if I’ve offended anyone, the post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context it may have the opposite effect. Not all Mexicans have a moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money. I used a cartoon done by somebody else because it has Super Mario and I thought it was funny and not offensive. Again, I’m sorry.”
Vijay Sachet (Sr.) said, “Balotelli is a great athlete, but he gets frustrated quickly and can make foolish actions due to it. From his days at Manchester City [former club team], Balotelli had struggled with coaches, players, and ultimately, the fans. It has been very difficult for him.”
Balotelli has suffered racial abuse several times throughout his career. In Italy, his nation’s own supporters were cursing at him and mocking him. In his previous team, supporters threw bananas at him, calling him a monkey and other remarks.
As a supporter of Balotelli, I must admit that his actions in this post are greatly damaging his own soccer career. Despite his innocent intentions, he has always rushed into action, causing him to generate unsportsmanlike behavior. He is an aggressive and powerful player, but the minimal things have sometimes furiously ignited him with poor judgment.
Balotelli is currently sidelined with a groin injury and is expected to miss the team’s Tuesday trip at Leicester City. Balotelli has until December 15 to respond to the Football Association’s charges.