AC Milan’s newly acquired striker Mario Balotelli has received a warm, Italian football welcome from club vice president Paolo Berlusconi. At a political meeting near Milan, Berlusconi called the black Italian striker “n***** di famiglia,” or “the family’s little n*****.”
I guess you could come to expect this from a) Italian soccer, and b) a member of the Berlusconi family. However, Paolo’s older brother, team owner and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, recently praised Kevin Prince-Boateng for leaving the pitch after fans threw racially charged epithets his way.
Paolo’s comments were captured in a most Mitt Romney way: He was speaking candidly at a rally for a candidate his brother supported in the right-wing People of Freedom Party when local reporters caught the remarks on film. Not actual film, no one uses that anymore.
Obviously, much worse things have happened in the realm of racism in European soccer than these comments. But coming from the team’s vice president who thought he was speaking off the record — a Berlusconi he may be — it speaks volumes about the huge strides the oft-voraciously racist European soccer fanbases still have to make.
[ESPN FC, Getty Images]