03 December 2009

Guest Analyst 'Bourbon': The Cat in the Oven.

By Bourbon


If a cat makes kittens in an oven…does that make them bread?

This was a question posed to me by an old man a while ago in reference to a person’s nationality being subject to their place of birth or to their parentage. It’s a debate that can go on and on, and right at this moment, it interests me especially in the form of “Super” Mario Balotelli. Born in Italy to Ghanaian parents, and given up for adoption, Balotelli to me is a perfect example of what the talent that exists on the African continent can become if given the degree of systematic development that occurs in Europe. At 19, he is considered one of the bright prospects for the future, given his technical ability, pace and ability to play anywhere along the front line. Awesome isn’t it?

Mario has made public his desire to play for Italy. Understandable, he’s grown up in Italy all his life, he would consider himself culturally Italian, he might even as far as considers himself abandoned by his biological parents (as quite a few children given up for adoption tend to do.) So no problem, he’s Italian right? Not according to supporters of Juventus, who chanted “There is no such thing as a Black Italian” apparently in response to Balotelli’s showboating and perceived attitude when playing against them. Many arguments abounded that this was not “racist.” Probably that sentiment is echoed by the fans (identified as Roma fans) who threw bananas at him while he was at a bar. (At a BAR…not on the field of play…)


Now, faced with that and many other problems, what should one do? I will admit I personally I have never really liked Italian teams due to the implicit, sometimes explicit racial problems that they have on occasion. Rascism is hardly ever rational. And while all footballers at some point in time would love to win a World Cup, and Italy as one of the football giants have as good a chance as any to do just that, one may conclude that this may have factored into his choice. Even before obtaining his Italian passport, Mario has maintained he wants to play for Italy. The question is, given all the issues that seem to surround him, does Italy want him to play for Italy?

He’s already played for their U-21 team. So maybe hope exists in the future for him. But the reasons for him not yet making the senior team range from competition for positions, to his often publicized “attitude.” I’ve heard him described as “50 cent on a football field.” And while I hold no brief for him, I would dare say that his hostility is probably due to the type of treatment he has had to face growing up in Italy given his descent. Interestingly, Ghana has made several approaches to him, in fact are planning to meet him again before the end of the year to discuss the chances of him playing for them. The question is…what should he chose?

Persons that I have engaged in this debate have given me a wide range of responses. Maybe, his determination to play for Italy is to prove those that antagonize him wrong. In the mould of Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela, and Barrack Obama, he wants to show that he is worth it. Sounds commendable and I understand it. Maybe, he feels more ties to Italy, since he’s grown up there, and feels no such association with Ghana, and his heart would be there. Point noted. Maybe he wants the best chance possible to win a World Cup, and considers Italy’s chances better than Ghana’s. Probably. But, my question is, would he be given that chance? Should he wait to exhale? His reputation certainly doesn’t help him, as his indiscretions seem to be getting more and more publicity. Like this for example:


Unfortunately, by this, he has given those in authority less reason to risk any backlash by taking a chance on him. He has already provoked the opinion that he doesn’t work hard enough or play to his full potential at times. This to me…makes me a bit skeptical that he is trying to shatter a glass ceiling by playing for Italy. Or maybe he has become disillusioned and in on the verge of giving up.

I simply wish him all the best in whatever he chooses to do. It isn’t my place to chose, I have never been in a situation even remotely like his. Maybe it’s my semi-grudges against Italy that have me wishing to some extent that he decides to play for Ghana. Whatever he does do, I just hope that he blossoms into what everyone knows he can be. It would be an added bonus for me if those who determine how a person should be treated by their race would realize by whatever action he takes how stupid that behavior is.

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