Berlusconis In Trouble Over 'Black Boy' Slur at Jewish-Raised Mario Balotelli

Pol's Brother Makes Racist Jab at Milan's New Signing

Jewish ‘Boy’: Mario Balotelli was an orphan and was raised by a Jewish family in Italy.
getty images
Jewish ‘Boy’: Mario Balotelli was an orphan and was raised by a Jewish family in Italy.

By Reuters

Published February 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Silvio Berlusconi and his brother Paolo are getting heat over maverick Italy striker Mario Balotelli, with one accused of racism and the other of signing him for their club AC Milan only to win votes in this month’s national election.

Paolo Berlusconi, AC Milan’s vice president, was lambasted in social media after calling former Manchester City forward Balotelli “the little black boy of the family”.

A video of his comments, made on Sunday after a political event, was going viral after it was posted on various websites, including Tuttosport (www.tuttosport.com).

“And now let’s go and watch the little black boy of the family, the crazy head,” Paolo Berlusconi says in the video.

A spokesman for the Serie A club said on Wednesday there would be no comment on the video, which was recorded on the day Balotelli made his debut for AC Milan after being transferred from English Premier League club City last month.

Criticism of Paolo Berlusconi’s remarks took off after foreign media began writing about the video, which had received relatively little attention in the Italian press in the past few days.

“Balotelli is back in Italy for 2 minutes and already had racist comments made about him. Why do black players even play in Italy?,” one person tweeted.

Other tweets slammed the comments as “appalling”, “gross” and “idiocy”.

Balotelli, playing three days after leaving City, scored both goals in Milan’s 2-1 home victory over Udinese on Sunday.

After making the “little black boy” remark, Paolo Berlusconi told his listeners at the event for a local centre-right candidate: “All the young ladies are invited as well - you can even have a chance to meet the president” - an apparent reference to his older brother Silvio, who is club president.

While Paolo was taking the heat for his comments, Silvio Berlusconi was still under fire over his motivation for bringing the hot-tempered Balotelli back to Italy in the first place, having previously said Milan did not need a “rotten apple”.

For the past week, former prime minister Silvio has been the regular butt of jokes by comedians and attacks by his political rivals over the transfer, which they see as a clear attempt to woo Italian soccer fans to vote for his centre-right coalition.

Last week L’Unita, the paper of the main centre-left party, said nationwide fans of Milan, who won the Italian championship in 2011 but are now fourth in the Serie A standings, could influence about 1.3 percent of the vote.

L’Unita said thrusting Balotelli into the election campaign was “the devil’s touch”, a play on words because Milan’s mascot is a red-and-black devil.

Another paper said the move was so blatantly political that it called Balotelli “Candidate Mario,” in an editorial.

MONKEY CHANTS

Balotelli is no stranger to racism, real or perceived.

He was born in Sicily to Ghanaian parents and given up for adoption to an Italian family at the age of three. He grew up in northern Italy and became an Italian citizen at 18.

Both in Italy and during the 2012 European soccer Championship co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine he endured monkey chants and bananas thrown on the pitch.

He seemed to anger racist fans more than other black players in Italy, precisely because he is Italian and not a foreigner.

When Balotelli played for Inter Milan, rival Juventus fans once shouted: “There are no black Italians.”

Last month Silvio Berlusconi defended his players for walking off the pitch during a friendly match against lower division team Pro Patria, when Ghanaian midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng and two of his team mates were subjected to monkey chants and jeers from opposition fans.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.