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Welcome home, Mario Balotelli. Here’s some racism from your new club’s VP.

Feb 6, 2013, 7:58 AM EDT

AC Milan v Juventus FC - Serie A Getty Images

If you were under the impression soccer’s racism problem is confined to the stands, let me introduce you to Paolo Berlusconi, a man who used a Tuesday political forum to describe the new face of his club as his “family’s little n—–.”

Yes, this is still 2013, and yes, there is at least one person that still talks like this, let alone apparently feels something that corresponds to the words. That he’s the vice president of AC Milan and therefore one of Mario Balotelli’s new bosses may be the most disturbing part of this story.

There are a lot of racists in this world, but usually the ones that are stupid enough to flaunt their antiquated ideology in front of cameras at a right-wing political event aren’t in a position to buy soccer players for $31.5 million. And if history tells us anything, letting racists buy people is a profoundly horrible idea.

I feel like that should go without saying.

On Tuesday, Berlusconi (pictured, left), brother of Milan owner and former Italian primer minister Silvio, was appearing at a People of Freedom party event in Monza where he said the following about Balotelli:

“Okay, we are all off to see the family’s little n—–. He’s a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well — you can even have a chance to meet the president (Silvio Berlusconi).”

Not even a creepy sexual overture from a 63-year-old man could offset five dashes worth of race hate.

source:  Racism played its part in Balotelli’s first spell in Milan – the four seasons he spent at Internazionale from 2006 to 2010. Subjected to racial taunts from fans, Balotelli received a brief sojourn during his time at Manchester City. Now, eight days after returning to Milano, Balotelli’s back to the future moment comes courtesy of one his new club’s executives.

While reports say the Italian media’s reaction has been appropriately harsh, it’s not a given that Berlusconi will lose his job, something that would happen at almost any other club (or business) in the world. He’s a family man in a family business, something that may help him weather this storm. And the Berlusconi family knows a few things about weathering storms.

What was it that the shirt said? “WHY ALWAYS ME?” This may be the first time we can truly get behind that message. When Mario returns home to Italy to find he’s working for a man with a plantation mindset, you do wonder: Why always him?

  1. wfjackson3 - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    Pathetic. Europe needs to stomp out this kind of behavior.

  2. capsfan19 - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    This is disgusting. Berlusconis give italians a bad rap. Theyre white trash. It blows me away that people like this are in a position of power.
    Ahh i hope balo keeps his chin up and plays for the fans. He’s so talented and just made a big move home.
    Ahh this makes me so upset!

  3. korules - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    @wfjackson3 ‘Europe’? Really? Way to generalize.

  4. dfstell - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    You know….there are two problems here. One is obviously that some people in Europe still have these horrible racist views. And it isn’t just limited to people of African descent either. Ask people from northern Europe how they feel about immigration and you’ll hear them say horrible things about Turks, Kurds, etc. Try to find any of them who don’t take shots and the Gypsies or people from Eastern Europe. Get Irish and Northern Irish going about each other or Scots going about the English. There’s just a lot of this crap bubbling in Europe.

    The thing is, their society tolerates this crap. In the US, think of racist statements in sports…. There was the whole Rush Limbaugh thing with Donovan McNabb. What he said wasn’t nearly as bad as monkey chanting and it ended Rush’s sports career on the spot. Same thing with Jimmy the Greek….in fact, that’s all anyone remembers about Jimmy the Greek.

    Until saying these kinds of things is a career-ender because everyone agrees it is disgusting, it’ll continue to happen.

  5. martysbetter - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Is there some kind of cultural disconnect or something lost in translation here? I can’t help but feel like a man in his position would know better than to be so tactless in spewing this type of hate – did he drop THE N bomb or is it the Italian equivalent of “negro” (which isn’t many years past being a socially acceptable word to use in this country)?

    For example, while in Brazil people referred to me as ‘Gringo’ – which would be considered a racial slur (to me) in this country, but is a term with no negative connotation attached to it in their country.

    • crnelson10 - Feb 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      I’ve been wondering the same thing, and would like to hear from someone who speaks Italian about it. Being bilingual with Spanish as a second language, I’ve certainly come across a number of works that Latinos use for other ethnic groups that rubbed my American sensitivities the wrong way (i.e. “chino” for anyone of Asian heritage or “negro” for Africans), and seeing as Italian and Spanish are so closely related- I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case.

      That said, this guy comes across as a real douche bag either way.

      • crnelson10 - Feb 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM

        er, words not works.

      • redblackst - Feb 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        according to google translate, “black” in italian is nero. Close to negro, but not n*****

      • lcs4d - Feb 6, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        Being Italian born I understand that the Italian word “Negro” is considered a slur, whereas the word “Nero” is not considered a slur. Nero = Black.

  6. socamr - Feb 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    If FIFA is really trying to stamp out racism, this should be an easy one: tell Milan they are banned from international competition until they fire Berlusconi. Serie A could step up too, but given the power of the Berlusconi family, I’m not holding my breath.

  7. drewvt6 - Feb 6, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I’m pretty sure there’s some things lost in the translation. the connotation of the direct translation of the word that means black person is different in Italian. not that I am keen on defending the guy but I think it’s silly to go over the top in reacting to this.

  8. njsurfchick - Feb 6, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    The Berlusconi are inbred idiots….Paolo makes Silvio look like a genius. As for lost in translation, he shouldn’t refer to any player by the color of their skin, regardless of the language. Testa di cazzo…

  9. charliej11 - Feb 6, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    For all of those that think it is lost in translation. Maybe, maybe he just called him black. But he called him crazy in the next sentence, so even if he just called him black, which MB is, he was using it as a put down in my opinion, which is worse than using the N word. Black skin isn’t inferior, if you act like it is, then you are a racist. This guy DID act that way and his action IS racist.

  10. 1historian - Feb 6, 2013 at 2:26 PM


    Us white folks lost the monopoly on racism long ago.

    If you vote AGAINST someone because of the color of his skin – this is racism.


    If you vote

  11. 1historian - Feb 6, 2013 at 2:31 PM


    Us white folks lost the monopoly on racism long ago.

    If you vote AGAINST someone because of the color of his/her skin – this is racism.


    If you vote FOR someone because of the color of his/her skin – this too is racism. (that means you Obama voters)

    Prominent black racists – Andrew Young, Barack Obama, Al Sharpton.

    Granted the “n word” is a vile word but ONLY for us whities. Black people use it all the time and I’d bet that every time they do most of them have a chuckle about how afraid they have made us white folks (honkies) about using it.

    Try being black in Japan.

    • freddieoh - Feb 6, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      Hey “historian,” I hereby invite YOU to Fukuoka. Try being a honky racist in Japan.

      For your own sake if not just for ours.

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