Whilst having my morning read of all things sport I noticed two things – the first being that Ronaldo’s two sublime goals in El Derbi must have been truly spectacular as all articles mentioning them were devoid of the word that may as well be an expletive – a comparison to the one and only Leo Messi, and the second being that some journalists are genuinely deserving of a good hard shake.
The article in question came in none other than the paper who gave us Samantha Brick, yes the Daily Mail, and was centred around one of the most controversial figures in the game – Super Mario himself. Said article dubbed the City forward as ‘all that is wrong with the modern game in England’ and proceeded to basically downright attack the player for a variety of things, both on and off the field.
Geoffrey Levy begins by crucifying the player for his seven bedroom mansion and Bentley car – because let’s face it, the rest of the Premier League live in two up two down terraced houses and drive banged up Fords.
Balotelli also comes under severe stick for giving vast amounts of cash to tramps, Church collection boxes and passers-by in the street – generosity these days is just outrageous. Never mind the fact that the player himself denied the majority of these accusations in a recent interview with Noel Gallagher – they must be true.
Of course, given recent tabloid stories, the obligatory playing away from home is talked about in detail – no not the game at the Emirates, but the Jennifer Thompson story. Oh how Coleen must be thrilled these stories are being dragged through the mud again.
Really though, Levy is totally justified in criticising Mario for his infidelity – he is the only footballer who has ever cheated in the history of the game. What an utter joke. Such behaviour has been going on long before Mario Balotelli and will for a long time after. Rafaella Fico is not the first and will not be the last to stay with her cheating partner, yet Levy has a particular issue with her doing this and stating ‘but he always comes home to me. I am his favourite.’
Ryan Giggs also lives in a mansion and drives a flashy car, not to mention certain ‘contact’ with glamour girl Imogen Thomas, but is this written about? Of course not. Nor the many infidelities or shows of wealth of countless other Premier League stars – the Rooneys recently had a lavish party with a camel, but never mind this or the other players’ parties. Mario is clearly the only disgrace and should be vilified for it.
There is only one problem. Not too long ago, the very same paper and indeed majority of the media were hailing Balotelli as a ‘breath of fresh air’ and the character the Premier League needed to revitalise it with players so cautious in interviews now, and the league devoid of any character. Well pick one or the other – Balotelli does not seem like anywhere near as bright as the fireworks he seems to love, and must be totally confused at the sudden turnaround in public affection towards him.
It is certainly funny how certain players receive different media attention and responses for conduct that is entirely the same as other players – it seems that it is not just officials who are prone to such differential treatment.
It would be hypocritical to say that Balotelli is perfect – of late he has attracted more unwanted headlines than he should, but as Micah Richards put it; much like him at Balotelli’s age, the media are fascinated by him and his every move, and even when an incident is not the player’s fault, he makes headlines because of it.
Balotelli is a 21 year old lad, who has more talent than most, and at 21 how many players or indeed people can you say have not made their fair share of mistakes in their job? After the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo had his face mocked up on a dartboard in a double-page spread by the Sun, and went on to have his best season for United.
Another major problem for the player is the way the media will one day use his troubled upbringing as an excuse and the next the reason for his behaviour – the fact his adoptive mother held his hand whilst he slept for years is neither here nor there; at 22 years of age I sleep with my cat in the bed and this has no bearing on my work life, and surely the player himself cannot be comfortable with such factors being made public.
Yes, Balotelli can sometimes be his own worst enemy, and is entirely unpredictable, but as are the majority of young people his age, with so much so young, the amount of media attention levelled at the player is highly unfair and a major contributing factor to his unpredictable and publicised behaviour – especially when others get away with such a huge amount that is far worse, both on and off the field. To state Balotelli’s career could ‘conceivably be over’ is downright ludicrous, with Mancini himself stating he expects Mario to feature before the end of the season.
It is ironic that an article that focuses the entirety of its content on Balotelli being all that is wrong with the modern footballer also embodies all that is wrong with tabloid journalism and its fickle, unsubstantiated nature these days – not to mention the penchant for singling out individuals unfairly. Perhaps a thought to ponder for Levy in his next article?