Mario Balotelli is Liverpool's new number 45. He has stated, while at AC Milan, that he wears that number because " I made my debut in Serie A, I had 45 and it brought me luck. For this I kept it"
Mario Balotelli was once Mario Barwuah. He was born in Palermo, Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants. His parents, The Barwuahs, we're so poverty stricken that it was suggested by authorities that Mario should be placed into foster care. Mario was 3 at the time he was fostered by the Balotellis. A wealthy white family from a town in northern Italy called Concesi. At first Mario was to spend the weekdays with the Balotellis and the weekend with his biological mother and father, and his brother and two sisters. Soon Mario started to drift away form his old life with his biological family. Spending less and less time with them. In an interview published in Italy Mr. Barwuah stated. " We thought that at some point, once things had sorted out, Mario would come back to us. But instead every time we tried The Balotellis would extend the foster time". "We couldn't afford a lawyer so Mario grow more and more distant."
Nowadays Mario is practically a stranger to his own parents. Some say it is because of what the Balotellis have told him. Stories of abandonment and beatings that his biological father denies. Others like me feel it is because he wants to forget that he came from an immigrant family. He wants to be Italian, and accepted as one. Hence the name change from Barwuah to a traditional Italian name Balotelli.
On Mario's 18th birthday he became an Italian citizen with his new surname Balotelli. His biological parents were not invited to the ceremony nor were they informed of the name change and his abandonment of his past. After the ceremony Balotelli released this statement " I am Italian, I feel Italian. I will forever play with the Italy national team. " Later he was included in both the U18 and full national teams. Becoming the first black player to get a full international cap for Italy.
Now you would think that fans of an ageing national team, that was in need of a young passionate striker would welcome him with open arms. No. Not in Italy. Not where racism is still a huge factor within Italian league football. Mario was the only black player included in the 2014 Italian national World Cup team. He was the team's leading scorer in the qualifiers with 5 goals. But still not accepted, not loved for the Italian that he is.
Mario points out that he has, at some point, been racially abuse at every club he has been at. Even being abused while playing for his own national team. It must be hard to be Italian, feel Italian but still seen as the immigrant that you are not.
Last year while playing for AC Milan against Roma, in a stadium full of fellow Italians, the referee had to temporarily stop the game due to racist chanting. Mario is on record now saying that if it were to happen again that he would walk off the pitch. There is no place for anyone to racially abuse you let alone your own countrymen. In an interview with GQ he spoke about the abuse he endured while playing for the San Siro clubs. Speaking out against the lack of progression on the matter.
"People are fighting this thing, and it's important. But in the media every time I have talked about this subject people talk about it for three or four days but then everything goes back to normal.
"So, either there is something really strong for all of us to do, some real movement or real action, and in that case I will be the first guy to participate, but if it's just talk, I'd rather not.
"We can talk about it as much as we want but things don't change that way."
While asked about the difference between Italian racism and that he has experienced while playing in England he had this to say. "There are racists in England but I think they hide it more."
This brings me to the keyboard Rambos that viciously abused Balotelli after Leicester scored their 5 goal against the other team from Manchester. The cowards that find the courage to type horrendous abuse while sitting, hiding, behind a keyboard and a username. Balotelli tweeted out some banter. That's all it was. Nothing more. He tweeted 3 words "Man Utd ... LOL" If I were to tweet that. I would get a little hate mail or hate tweets, but nothing as vile and disgusting as what Mario had to endure. Not long ago Eden Džeko tweeted "Hahaha" after Man Utd lost to MK Dons embarrassingly 4-0. No tweets were recorded as being racial to Džeko.
Twitter is a wonderful thing. It allows me to interact with fellow fans. In form you of videos I have created on YouTube. Show you articles and possible team lineups. Why Twitter is awful Is that it gives a platform for dinosaurs to spout their abuse and hatred towards others.
I honestly believe Mario is colour-blind. He does not see black or white. He is Italian. I just wish everyone else was as blind as he is. Mario's next under shirt might reference Ali G's old line. "Is it because I'm black?"