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Sunday February 9 2014
Behind Balotelli's tears

The sight of Mario Balotelli crying on the Milan bench sparked a false media frenzy that Susy Campanale found incomprehensible.

Italian football – and Italian society in general – still has a very long way to go when it comes to eradicating racism. However, spreading lies and leaping to conclusions will definitely not help the situation. Mario Balotelli burst into tears during a game and non-Italian media assumed it was because of racist abuse without knowing any of the facts. How quickly this falsehood spread was disconcerting.

We all know stories spread like wildfire on the Internet and in the age of Twitter completely made-up or twisted tales can reach television news programmes with very little filter. I was just finishing up working on the Napoli-Milan match when I saw ‘Balotelli’ was trending on Twitter in the UK. I clicked on the topic, expecting to see something about the game or people commiserating with the much-loved maverick over his tearful reaction to the substitution. Instead I found myself reading page upon page of comments asking for UEFA to ban Italian clubs and even for all black players around the world to go on strike because racist abuse had been so bad that it pushed SuperMario to break down in tears. I was speechless, which is more than can be said for those thousands who declared Serie A should be shut down on the basis of a completely false story.

I don’t know where the rumour started, perhaps from a Vine account or a misguided journalist who wasn’t at the game, but it seemed incredibly difficult to stop. I tried via my Twitter account, as did our official Football Italia feed, but everyone was painfully eager to believe the worst. Evidence and context were apparently irrelevant, for Balotelli broke down and therefore it HAD to be racist abuse. The fact Clarence Seedorf didn't mention racism in several interviews afterwards was insufficient to change their minds. Abuse has only ever fired him up to do better and shut the critics up, not to emotionally collapse. 

This has been a tough week for Mario. A bitter legal battle with his ex-girlfriend finally came to the DNA tests proving he is the father of a little girl, Pia, who was born in December 2012. He has avoided meeting her until this point as he wanted to be sure he was her Dad before making an emotional connection, as much for her own good as his. “I know what it’s like to be a child and suddenly people leave,” said the man who was adopted by the Balotelli family in Brescia and was estranged from his biological family until relatively recently. Pia and her mother Raffaella Fico live in Naples. Milan were playing at the San Paolo. It’s very likely he had something prepared as a dedication to his newly-discovered daughter if he was to score a goal that night, in her home city. When he was substituted just moments after missing an open goal and with his team losing, the disappointment flooded over him. It’s entirely understandable and I wanted to climb into the television to give him a much-needed cuddle.

This isn’t the first time Balotelli has wept during a football event. He cried when embraced by his mother after scoring a brace against Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final. He then shed tears at the final whistle of that heavy Final defeat to Spain. Perhaps the more repressed nations are unaccustomed to seeing football players cry at emotional moments, but that is the sheer passion this sport invokes in people, both on and off the pitch. It’s not even unheard of in England, where Paul Gascoigne couldn’t hold back the emotion when learning he’d be suspended for the 1990 World Cup Final (if his team would’ve got there).

How often do supporters phone in to radio stations to complain their highly-paid players are mercenaries who don’t care about the team? Balotelli proved how much he truly cares for Milan and was angry at himself for not being able to help the team. It is to be embraced, not vilified.

Another video of tears went viral last week, as Hernanes wept in his car while saluting Lazio fans for the last time. He knew it was the final occasion before his move to Inter, but the supporters did not. The Brazilian was consoled in tender fashion by the ultras – the same ultras we so often see depicted as vicious brutes who want to beat up their own players. The video usually cut out before one telling moment, which saw the fan who embraced him break away because he too was crying.

Don’t underestimate the power of sport to move the emotions in fans or players. And don’t leap to conclusions.

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Have your say...
@Mustaafaa ditto on that. And I agree.....
on the 12th February, 2014 at 9:38pm
@Mustbestupid

Do you even know what punctuation is? Why don't you stick to football and let the grown up talk.
on the 12th February, 2014 at 9:12pm
@mustafaa And this concerns you how? It's two different things genius. Thanks for your input mustafa we all appricated it deeply. Very thought through lol. Pathetic
on the 12th February, 2014 at 8:37pm
Viktoria is talking about punctuation where he/she barely spells words right. Something to laugh about.
on the 12th February, 2014 at 6:25pm
@nicola

Something wrong with blue collar workers? Remember football initially is considered as blue collar sport. What's wrong with dancing and singing?
Try work on your punctuation as they makes no sense.
I'm glad your having a healthy debate, keep it going.
on the 12th February, 2014 at 5:01pm
Hey Viktor You only wish! You strike me as a person who sings in front of a mirror and dances too, If I was schooled why did I respond to maldinis heir, It 's a clean and healthy debate. He states his point of views and I do the same. "WELL WHY DON'T YOU" go back to the gym as you stated and make sure the equipment and the floors and showers are clean doesn't your shift start soon remember keep it "TIDY"....... at Maldini's Heir it is great to have a debate with you. BTW BALO'S a good lad.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 11:27pm
@nicola

Calm down. I'm not sure anyone understand what you're talking about. You just got schooled x2 by @maldinis heir, if I would be you I'd keep a bit of a low profile. You should deal with your own rage issues outside of football italia. We get it, you *really* dislike balo. Now calm down lol
on the 11th February, 2014 at 9:08pm
@maldinis heir, I LEFT OUT Inzaghi who BTW! has a WORLD CUP TITLE TO HIS BELT, A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TITLE TO HIS OTHER BELT and a few scudetto's.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 9:00pm
@maldini's heir, To compare Vieri off the pitch ? Have you heard and seen on the news the bull Balo's pulled when he was in the UK!, And to compare him with Totti? Atleast Totti didn't have a "slugfest/shoving" match with Mancini the coach. C'MON "BALO'S" GOTTA GROW UP "REALLY". @Viktor DUUUUUUUDE! I TAP DANCE, BREAK DANCE , LINE DANCE,CLIMB MOUNTAINS, SWIM THE DEEPEST SEAS....ETC.(PPPPPPPLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAASSSSSSSEEEEEE!I don't do the "gym" though. 'sorry'.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 8:50pm
@ nicola so you want Balo to become like Baggio, Inzaghi, Vieri, Del Piero and Totti? But he's already scored more goals in a major tournement than all but 2 of those? Or would you prefer he showed the professionalism of Totti when he spat at Christian Poulsen in Euro 2004? Or maybe the honesty of Inzaghi in the box? Or maybe the professionalism which Vieiri showed off the pitch. Or do you have different standards for Balo?
on the 11th February, 2014 at 6:53pm
@nicola

What do you know about me? Nothing. Pie eating contest? I still play football twice a week, bike,box and gym. I love sports. So save me your nonsense, you don't know me. Saying Balo won the trophies cause of other is plain wrong. Football is a team sport. FYI, do you even realize how much of a beating Balo takes every game, it's not the the guy is small and thin. Granted he falls a bit easy every now and then but most often he takes incredible beatings.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 4:15pm
@Viktor REALLY! and your the "model athlete".Maybe at a pie eating contest, My point is when your club is down for the count your top player should come out to shine, not telling them to pass you the ball in the box and hoping someone barely taps you and fall down so you get a penalty kick. BALO has a ways to go to be, An Italian enigma of the likes of Baggio,Inzaghi, Vieri,Del Piero or a Totti to name a few. ALL KIDDING ASIDE he's talented but he's got to get it together.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 2:50pm
@Viktor REALLY! and your the "model athlete".Maybe at a pie eating contest, My point is when your club is down for the count your top player should come out to shine, not telling them to pass you the ball in the box and hoping someone barely taps you and fall down so you get a penalty kick. BALO has a ways to go to be, An Italian enigma of the likes of Baggio,Inzaghi, Vieri,Del Piero or a Totti to name a few. ALL KIDDING ASIDE he's talented but he's got to get it together.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 2:46pm
Nocerino just wasn't the same player after Ibra left the club. They had a terrific understanding. Ibra's hold-up play is second to none & Nocerino would feed off this to great effect. Poli & Cristante's exclusion also bothers me. With Milan's awful defence, I think it would be better if they had another body in the middle; just to make things a bit more solid: ideally NDJ, Monty, & Cristante.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 1:41pm
IMO, if Balo is to reach his potential, two things need to happen. He needs to to sort his head out-putting in a shift in every game. Two, he needs a strike partner. He isn't an out & out striker: more of a 9.5. He has looked better when playing alongside Cassano & Rossi. He likes to drop deep, and in Allegri's/Seedorf's systems, this often leaves the team without a focal point & Balotelli isolated.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 10:21am
I would never use a players trophy cabinet as a gauge of their quality. It can be misleading and (sometimes) cannot hold up under closer inspection On the one hand, you have the likes of Maldini & Giggs, who have been great/key players & models of consistency. On the other, you have players like Roque Junior & Balotelli who have won many titles, but were hardly instrumental, or lucky to be along for the ride. Baggio won comparatively little, but was on another planet compared to Mario.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 10:10am
Maldini's Heir, Balotelli was a cameo act at both Inter & City. He was behind in the pecking order of the likes of Eto, Milito, Pandev, Aguero, Tevez, & Dzeko. He showed moments of class but this was never sustained-which is his big problem. At the Euro's, he had one good game (vs Germany). He was poor/average against Spain twice, wasteful against England, & ok against Croatia/Ireland. No striker excelled in that competition & that is why he got in the team of the tournament.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 10:01am
@ mm and Viktor the question for me is how did Nocerino go from being the player he was in 11/12 to now? Another player fallen by the wayside after Milan stopped believing in him. And what about Poli? What precisely has he done wrong this season? And Cristante? What hope has he of getting first team football with 6 CMs. So what does Essien add? All he does is limit opportunities for Poli and Cristante. Poli will probably move on in the summer overhaul along with Saponara and Niang and maybe SES
on the 11th February, 2014 at 9:36am
And let me tell you as a Milan fan I'm absolutely fuming that he scored 12 goals in 13 apps in the second half of last season and helped us qualify for the CL. Also those goals he's scored this season against PSV in the CL qualifier, Livorno and Cagliari really were not good enough for a 23 year old. He should look back in his career and be ashamed at all that success. It's not like he's won anything (except everything I mentioned in my previous post).
on the 11th February, 2014 at 9:31am
@ Nicola they're the stats. They don't lie. Now I'm sure you'll criticise Balo for not offering more to Inter when he was 17 - 20 but he still managed to score 20 goals in 59 apps. Or perhaps he should've done more when he arrived in the Prem as a 20 year old (other than score 20 goals in 54 apps and produce that assist to win the league title). And really at 21 he should've offered more for Italy in the Euros (other than those 4 goals including 2 in the semis against Germany).
on the 11th February, 2014 at 9:27am
@nicola

Dude, lol your so way off about Balo. He's not consistent however but he's way better then you make it sound like. As a matter of fact I remember you trash talking balotelli few month ago.. weird. Pretty all those stats @maldinis heir brought up matter. If you don't understand that, then Im guessing your not much of an athlete yourself. People should leave him alone for once, and I can guarantee he would be more consistent.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 12:19am
Can anyone tell me why graziano pelle isn't called u to Azzuri

Btw. Milan makes me cry too
on the 11th February, 2014 at 12:01am
@Maldini's heir, those stats your giving has only 1 title with him at Man/City and let me tell you No Way he was their best player nor the reason when the team was well stacked even without him...Dzeko,Aguero,Kolarov,should I go ON!. And with Inter he had limited time on the field so no way he was the main factor for their treble. The only stat that no one can touch is his diving in the box. {Lotsa! Lotsa! Goals on that one. He's Gotta Grow Up! Nuff Said.
on the 10th February, 2014 at 11:15pm
Human-wise, it hurts to see Milan or Inter like this. But if this scene made you emotional, I saw Del Piero and Buffon play in Serie B. So the people that were responsible for bringing Juve down deserve what they experiecing right now. What goes around comes around. So, suffer and go down to hell. 
on the 10th February, 2014 at 9:57pm
@viktor
Im sorry please help me to understand the point in nocerino exit and essien entrance? Hes older, injury prone, not exactly versatile. I mean nocerino isnt the greatest but at least he can play anywhere in midfield and hes not as injury prone as essien.
Bit of a stupid comment from the very man who said pirlo and beckham are the same! Please viktor go away!!!! You should pick another sport! You cant seriously be this ridiculous.... can you??
You need to wake up and fast!
on the 10th February, 2014 at 8:24pm
@ Nicola serie a debut @ 16, 3 scudetti, 1 coppa italia, 1 CL, 1 super cup, 1 premiership, 1 fa cup (in which he was man of the match in the final), 1 runners up medal in the euros (in which he scored 4 goals and was named on the team of the tournament) and 1 bronze in the confederations and 12 goals in 13 apps for milan to help them qualify for the CL. At 23 he's already done some talking on the pitch but it gets drowned out by made up stories in the media.
on the 10th February, 2014 at 7:19pm
A man is measured by his actions not by his words, and I'm sure he knows it now that he's a FATHER. BALO'S got to get it together to take his team to a whole new level. Milan is in dire need of repair and everyone knows it, So no more finger pointing and do the talking on the PITCH!!!!!!. They have the leg's and talent to get themselves up. All they need to do is communicate and play like a team NUFF SAID.........OH! ONCE AGAIN I 'FORGOT TO MENTION I'M A JUVE SUPPORTER BUT A SERIA "A" DISCIPLE.
on the 10th February, 2014 at 3:12pm
I keep saying it but why are we bothering with this moron? Again in the news but not for his football prowess or lack of it but for crying! All you Milan fans keep saying how is the saviour of your team...but he never plays....too many suspensions and not for fouling but for diving and being abusive towards others! How many goals this year? Look at how many Italian players are above him in the scoring table even Luca Toni at his age and Berardi for Sassuolo!! Prandelli please don't rely on him!
on the 9th February, 2014 at 11:01pm
@mm

You kidding right?? Noccerino had one good season except or that he's rubbish. Essien has at least been good over years. Just many injures lately. Comparing noccerino to essien is a joke
on the 9th February, 2014 at 9:55pm
Seedorf is to soft and to nice for the role, made worse bcoz he doesnt have finance to buy the quality needed in vital roles. Galliani n berlusconi have brought in the players that they knew they could get free and just got them. They have brought in players that we the fans will recognise and then 'unveil' them as if they are the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Based on the rubbish we have our formation can only be 1-8-1. What was the point to sell nocerino and bring essien?? Makes no sense
on the 9th February, 2014 at 8:58pm

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