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Euro 2012: Italian newspaper shows  striker Mario Balotelli as King Kong atop Big Ben prior to Italy’s match against  England

Prior to Italy’s  clash with England in Euro 2012, La Gazzetta dello Sport shows Balotelli, who is  black, swatting soccer balls while atop Big Ben. Racism has been a concern at  the European Championships, and Balotelli had said earlier that racism is  unacceptable in 2012.


Balotelli celebrates Italy’s shootout win over England Sunday.
Players competing in Euro 2012 were concerned that racism could be a problem  with fans in Poland and Ukraine. They probably didn’t expect to be the subject  of racial insensitivity in the press.

On Sunday an Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, published a photo-illustration of Italy’s star striker,  Mario Balotelli, as King Kong atop Big Ben swatting away soccer  balls.

Although the intent of the cartoon seemed to be that Balotelli and the  Italians would topple England, the execution was clearly done in poor taste. Italy  won the match in a shootout, 4-2.
Before the tournament  kicked off, Balotelli — who was born in Palermo but is of Ghanainan descent — addressed his concerns about racism in Poland and Ukraine, the co-hosts for the  European Championships.

“Let’s see what happens at the Euro. I hope that there will not be a  problem,” he told France Footall. “Because I really can’t handle that.”

“I cannot bear racism, it’s unacceptable for me. If it had happened again I  would straight away leave the pitch and go home. We are in 2012. It can’t  happen,” the 21-year-old added.
Despite efforts to stem any racist  outbursts, racism has been an issue at the month-long tournament. In Italy’s  group-play match against Croatia, Croatian fans directed racist chants at  Balotelli and a banana was thrown onto the pitch during the match. The Croatian  Football Federation was fined 80,000 euros ($106,000) last week for their fans’ actions.

Balotelli King Kong

Italian newspaper LaGazzetta dello Sport shows Mario Balotelli as  King Kong atop Big Ben following Italy’s win over England in the European  Championships.

On Monday, London’s Metropolitan police announced they were launching  an investigation into racist tweets directed at two black English  players — Ashley Cole and Ashley Young. Both players missed penalty kicks in the  Three Lions’ 4-2 loss to Balotelli’s Italian squad Sunday.

Earlier this month, UEFA, soccer’s governing body, addressed complaints from  the Netherlands about monkey chants from the crowd at a Dutch training session  in Krakow, Poland

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