There were major fears of racism in Ukraine and Poland ahead of Euro 2012, but it turns out some of the most egregious offenses have come from within the visiting players' own countries. Police in England are investigating the racial abuse of Ashley Cole and Ashley Young on Twitter after the pair failed to score in England's penalty shootout against Italy, and around the same time, Italy's best-selling sports paper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, decided to publish a cartoon depicting Mario Balotelli as giant gorilla King Kong.
Balotelli, who said before the tournament that he would leave the pitch and go home if he was subjected to any racial abuse, has already been one of the players targeted with monkey chants from Croatian fans (among others) and is said to be "deeply unhappy" with the cartoon according to The Guardian. Anti-racism group Kick It Out has also questioned the thought process behind its publication.
From The Guardian:
The cartoonist, Valerio Marini, was trying to project the image of Balotelli dominating England during the quarter‑final in Kiev on Sunday, when Roy Hodgson's team lost on penalties. Gazzetta, Italy's largest-selling sport newspaper, has accepted, however, that the cartoon "maybe wasn't the cartoonist's best work".
"In these times we need to show greater moderation, caution and good taste but we have always fought against racism, and condemned booing against Balotelli as unacceptable."
So even people who aren't deliberately being racist towards Mario Balotelli are still being racist towards Mario Balotelli. It shows the depth of crap this 21-year-old has to deal with and, depending on how forgiving you are, it might be reason enough to overlook some of his more erratic behavior and actions. But despite all this, Mario keeps scoring goals and he still smiles a lot more than many others would in his situation.
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