Saturday, 30 June 2012

football, high and low

Mario Balotelli and his foster mother
when I was growing up football was for boys and men  However, slightly unusually, my mother, who is coming up to 84, borders on the fanatical in her support of Manchester United, and watches it all on TV.  That team has always left me cold.  My old home team is Luton Town (sad, I know, not fair) and my London team is the great, the magnificent Tottenham Hotspur.  Although I have never lived in north London and have no plans to, and I am not Jewish.  It's still allowed.  I support England.  Of course I do.  And although the anthem played is the wrong one (at the cricket they, correctly, sing "Jerusalem", I am told), I sing it.  I sang it when England played France (we were in an "Irish" pub in Strasbourg, where all the staff are French).  Loudly.  The Marseillaise (written in Strasbourg, who knew?) was sung much more loudly, by many more people.  Word perfect.  And the tune is great.  But French fans do not sing.  Not at the match, and not in the pub, other than the national anthem.  At the match they chant.  But rarely do they sing.  They should learn to do so.
"Italy's pride"

To the real topic of this post - Mario Balotelli.  It is banal to say that a footballer has "caught the imagination of a generation".  I can remember the late George Best, I even met him once (girls, I would soooo have gone there), and he did that.  I have seen quite a bit of Mario (ooh er missus) in recent times, as sig other is a Manchester City supporter.  Mario is eccentric, talented, a bon viveur and a man with a great heart.  Oh, and he can score goals too.  What is not to like?

Hope for the future: in the Italy of today it is a great step forward that the media (think about the ownership of most of it) headline a player of Mario's ethnicity (born in Palermo to Ghanaian immigrant parents) as "Italy's pride".

Fear for the future: as Mario rushes to embrace Silvia Balotelli, the woman who brought him up (top picture), he has already been condemned by far-right groups because he is black.  But now we learn that his foster-mother is Jewish, giving those hate groups another reason to hate Mario.  Mario allegedly told team-mates that the visit they all made to Auschwitz made him think of a box of letters kept by Silvia from her own family's history.  And he sat down on the train tracks there and was quiet for a long while.

We can't have THAT, now, can we, haters?


Anonymous said...

I love Mario Balotelli! He is ACE. And I also met the late,great George Best and I agree wiht the comments!!

I do not like Spain. I do not like the way that the fab Mario is abused in the press and by snotty commentators. I want Italy to win tomorrow and in style. Yes they can!! GO MARIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

When I see him I just want to curl up and shout racist remarks.
Perhaps it's because I don't like football and I'm old.
One of his pics, arms bent and stripped to the waist was just copying Chris Eubank, but for some reason I liked him.
I supposed the words talented and poser go together.

Anonymous said...

Hater. Show them all tonight, Mario.

Anonymous said...

Coming from north west London (and I regard Ruislip as being NW London), I can regard myself as coming from both North London and West London, as well as coming from Middlesex.

Spurs, Arsenal, QPR, Chelsea, Fulham and Brentford are all Middlesex teams, as were Orient and Millwall at one time, and Barnet if they move to a new ground (Barnet was part of Hertfordshire before GLC).