Mario Balotelli in a Milan Shirt?By: Daryl | March 23rd, 2010
When you’re as young and talented as Inter striker Mario Balotelli, but out of favour with your coach, then probably best thing to do is keep your head down, work hard in training and stay out of trouble. Or you could go the opposite route and allow yourself to be filmed wearing the jersey of local rivals Milan, with your name and number on the back. Which is exactly what Balotelli did recently.
Seems the Balotelli was ambushed by satirical Italian news show Striscia la notizia, which seems to be a sort of Italian version of The Daily Show. Striscia present a recently humiliated celebrity with the Tapiro d’Oro (Golden Tapir) – a prize you don’t want to win – and Balotelli appears to be this week’s winner due to his unexplained absence from the last three Inter squads, and his total non-involvement in Inter’s excellent Champions League win over Cheslea last week.
Since Balotelli is reported to be a Milan fan in his youth, Striscia also presented Balotelli with the jersey of Inter’s rivals, bearing #45 Balotelli. An older, wiser, man would have just laughed knowingly and then put the jersey away, out of site. But Balotelli was naive enough to put it on. Cue damage control:
The player’s agent, Mino Raiola, later defended Balotelli’s actions, saying the show should be taken as a “joke” and that he is a “boy of 19 who may not understand the consequences of what he does”.
“I hope the fans understand that you cannot take a programme like Striscia seriously.”
While the normal blog reaction is to snarkily scoff at such spin, I have to agree with Balotelli’s agent here. Yes, it was a dumb move to wear the Milan jersey. But this clearly happened in jest, and with Balotelli under pressure. The kid was just hanging out in a restaurant when the Striscia people ambushed him. It’s not like he put the jersey on and then posed with Berlusconi and Leonardo.
We don’t know how seriously or otherwide Jose Mourinho and Inter will view Balotelli’s appearance on Striscia, but if Balotelli does end up leaving Inter this summer, then this incident will – whether correctly or not – form part of the narrative of his exit. Especially if he’s wearing a Milan shirt for real next season.
- For more on Internazionale read Inter Offside.