Soccer racism is something we rarely talk about at With Leather, because 1) it’s one of those ridiculous, inexcusable traditions hanging on as “part of the sport” because people in Europe never officially got a Civil Rights movement, and 2) we never write about soccer. But soccer racism is real, and when it’s not seeping out in the form of “monkey” chants or black players having bananas thrown at them, it shows up in Italian newspaper cartoons. I shouldn’t have to explain why the above comic picturing Italian footballer Mario Balotelli as a giant ape is awful, unless you’re one of those people who thought that LeBron James Vogue cover was just beautiful people showing passion.
Anyway, Mario Balotelli (pretty accurately described by Rumors & Rants as “Italy’s Ron Artest”) is King Kong and that picture went through at least five stages of publication before showing up in a newspaper without anyone thinking it was a bad idea. Gazzetta dello Sport eventually issued an apology, kind of, but … well, read it yourself.
Gazzetta acknowledged its mistake, saying: “It wasn’t our cartoonist’s best product. In these times we need a bit more moderation, caution and good taste. But we have always fought against racism and condemned booing against Balotelli as unacceptable.”
At least now we know who’d win a fight between Mario Balotelli and Hideki Matsui, right?
Racist and prejudiced cartoons and nicknames are the “black face Halloween costume” of journalism — they’re a bad idea and you’re pretty stupid for not just knowing it. Plus, the only reason you’re doing it is for shocked publicity, which those of us who DON’T want to draw black people as apes end up having to report on. Is “Mario Balotelli is an ape” really the most creative thing you can come up with? Put five more minutes of effort into the process and you’ll come up with something better. Hell, here’s a freebie: draw him drinking a bunch of urine.
As a bonus, here’s a clip of Balotelli accidentally drinking somebody’s urine.