Italian newspaper apologises for cartoon featuring Mario Balotelli as King Kong
Another week, another "misunderstood" scandal in Italy that appears to suggest a racial mocking of striker Mario Balotelli. This time around, even their leading sports newspaper is at it.
Despite helping fire his side into the Euro 2012 semi-finals tomorrow night with a cooly taken penalty against England, the 21-year-old is once again the subject of a racial storm in his home nation.
Today Italy's leading sports newspaper, La Gazzetta della Sport, has been forced to issue a quasi-apology over a cartoon - featured above - that mocked up Balotelli as the cinematic icon King Kong, in which the striker is drawn atop London's Big Ben and swatting away footballs.
The newspaper have since issued a public statement about cartoonist Valerio Marini's drawing:
”We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist. At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misunderstood.
”The newspaper is for those who read it and if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise. But those that accuse Gazzetta (and poor Marini) of racism are going overboard.
"This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of disrespect.”
The controversy comes in the wake of far-right Italian politician Paolo Ciani's decision to post an image of a Photoshopped Balotelli bending down to collect cabbages in a field on Ciani's personal Facebook page - the controversy arising from the fact that this is typically the work of immigrant workers in Italy and that Balotelli's parents are Ghanian immigrants.