Forgot Password

 

Register

 

Create your Connect ID

This will allow you to login to all DStv websites & applications




or
Login using
x

Email Reset

 




Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Italy

Mario Balotelli © Action Images

Will Balotelli's return help Berlusconi?



Soccer players do not usually enter a nation's political fray but when the country is Italy, the player is Mario Balotelli and the person running for office is his new boss Silvio Berlusconi, all bets are off.

Balotelli, the hot-tempered forward who had been playing for Manchester City, is poised to sign for AC Milan, the club owned by the former prime minister vying for a political comeback.

The timing of the deal and its potential electoral implications were not lost on anyone, least of all Berlusconi's centre-left opposition.

L'Unita, the paper of the main centre-left party, said thrusting Balotelli into the campaign was "the devil's touch", a play on words because Milan's mascot is a red-and-black devil.

The paper said fans of the club, which won the Italian championship in 2011 but is now lying fifth in the first division, could influence about 1.3 percent of the vote.

Berlusconi's move less than a month before the February 24-25 vote is a Great Gatsby-style "grand gesture by the magnificent fool" who thinks money can buy influence, the paper said.

La Stampa newspaper calculated that Balotelli could be worth 400 000 votes. One Italian television station called the move Berlusconi's "ace up his sleeve".

The latest polls say the centre left will win but its lead over the centre right has narrowed significantly since December when Berlusconi, after changing his mind several times, decided to return to active politics.

Berlusconi's strategy is to weaken the centre-left as much as possible so his centre right could wield the most influence in the next parliament.

That is where the signing of "Candidate Mario," as one paper dubbed him, fits in, according to some commentators.

In order to sign Balotelli, Berlusconi had to do an about-face.

BAD APPLE

Berlusconi, who also owns a media empire, said this month that he did not want Balotelli because the player was a "bad apple" who could "infect" the atmosphere of a team.

He later apologised and the business of sport and politics took its course.

"After distancing himself from Balotelli, Berlusconi has decided to make him a stepping stone in his complicated political campaign," La Stampa said.

Balotelli's temper is notorious on and off the pitch but Italians still remember his starring performance in last year's European Championship, when his two stunning goals knocked out Germany in the semifinals.

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 age 18.

"Balotelli is the son of the new Italy," said an editorial in Il Foglio, a political broadsheet whose editor was once a minister in a Berlusconi government.

The newspaper called Balotelli the "soul" of the type of populist Italy that Berlusconi wants the centre-right to represent.

The colour of Balotelli's skin, however, has not convinced some Italians that he is a son of the "new Italy".

Both in Italy and during Euro 2012 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."

Now Balotelli is returning to Italy as a footballer, an Italian, and some would say as a catalyst for both the sporting and political ambitions of Italy's richest man.

Shop

Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
R152.00
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R182.00
FIFA 14
Xbox 360
R549.00
Mitre Ultimatch Soccer Ball - White
A high quality football, offering high performance at both training and during football matches.
R252.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Live Video Streaming

Barclays Premier League - Matchday 3: QPR v Sunderland
Sat, 30 Aug @ 05:00
Sun, 31 Aug @ 01:00
Sun, 31 Aug @ 04:30

Sports Talk



Calvin Emeka Onwuka
Spurs will challenge for the title
It was in my room in Rustenburg, during the last Afcon, that I noticed the style that Mauricio...

John Dykes
United in condemnation
The British football press showed tremendous solidarity this week when they all leaped on the same...

Neil Tovey
Borrowing from best practice
The late Irish scribe and poet Oscar Wilde once famously opined that “youth is wasted on the...

Sunday Oliseh
Man U need more than an 'Angel'
Just two games into the English Premier League and Manchester United are five points (synonymous to...

Arjun Vidyarthi
Good signs for the Reds despite loss
A brace from Stevan Jovetic and a Sergio Aguero stunner ensured that Manchester City took all three...

Segun Odegbami
The Falcons - fulfilling Pele’s prophecy?
Did you watch the finals of the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup last Sunday night?