Italy: Will Racism Be a Problem for Mario Balotelli in Poland/Ukraine?

Stefano MocellaContributor IIMay 31, 2012

This will be Balotelli's first international tournament
This will be Balotelli's first international tournamentClaudio Villa/Getty Images

There certainly is never a dull moment with Mario Balotelli. In an interview with France Football Magazine, Balotelli said he will not tolerate any racism at the Euro Cup in Poland/Ukraine. He has threatened to walk off the pitch if he were to undergo any. 

"I hope that there will not be a problem because I really can't handle that. I cannot bear racism, it's unacceptable for me. If it happened again I would straight away leave the pitch and go home. We are in 2012. It can't happen."

Balotelli then went so far as to say that if someone were to throw a banana peel at him on the street, Balotelli would "go to prison because I will kill him."

He was referring to an incident in a bar in Rome, where bananas were thrown at him.

"These two or three lads were lucky the police came straight away because, I swear, I would have given them a proper kicking. I would truly have destroyed them. I hope that doesn't happen again."

Everyone's hoping that Balotelli does not have to endure this at the Euro Cup. While people have differing opinions of the enigmatic striker, race should obviously not be what forms opinions about him. Balotelli has every right to show zero tolerance in undergoing racial abuse.

BBC's Panorama ran a story about racism and antisemitism in Poland/Ukraine. In the story, the BBC's report cites instances of fans in Poland and Ukraine giving Nazi salutes from terraces, monkey chants tossed at black players, antisemitism and an assault on a group of Asian students.

Sol Campbell told BBC he believes UEFA should not have awarded the Euro Cup to Poland/Ukraine with these being issues.

"I think that they were wrong, because what they should say is that 'if you want this tournament, you sort your problems out. Until we see a massive improvement... you do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country.'"

UEFA runs a zero-tolerance approach to racism, and referees have the power to stop a match if racist incidents occur.

For the sake of the game and the outlook on society as a whole, let's all hope this isn't an issue—not just for Balotelli, but to anyone of a different race at the Euro.

Everyone should only be following the tournament to soak in one of the most prestigious tournaments of the world's favorite sport.

Back to Balotelli; his stance may scare some Azzurri supporters who are concerned by his unpredictable nature, but he should not be faulted if he has no tolerance for it. If UEFA has a zero-tolerance stance, why shouldn't he?

It's pretty sad that this is even being talked about in the 21st century. Unfortunately, however, some people don't seem to have learned anything from the last couple of centuries.

Let's just hope that soccer will be the only topic of discussion once the Euro gets under way.