The exciting Euro 2012 has greatly benefited from the economic crisis gripping the continent. Fans have enjoyed games between debtor and creditor countries as political competition rather than just sporting events. The culmination of political soccer was the Euro semifinal between Germany and Italy on Friday, when Mario Balotelli, 22, propelled his economically challenged nation, while knocking out the continent’s economic powerhouse.
With his spectacular two-goal performance that gave Italy a 2-1 win and a ticket to the final, the Italian daily Libero posted on its front page a cartoon showing Balotelli kicking a soccer ball in the face of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Another Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, expressed excitement, saying, “It is none other than you Merkel who must leave the euro.??? Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti secured the European Union’s decision that EU member states will prevent interest rates on Italian government bonds from rising at the EU leaders’ summit on the day of the semifinal. As a result, a newspaper said in a commentary, “Two Super Marios saved Italy.???
Media are lauding Balotelli for his semifinal performance but had competed to report his bad behavior, including threatening young players with darts and using cruel and abusive language, up until the eve of the match. Balotelli was born to an immigrant couple from Ghana. Skin color is an issue even in sports. His bad temper partly symbolizes his anger against racial discrimination. A combined 59 race-related incidents occurred in Italy over the past year, resulting in fines of 400,000 euros (500,000 U.S. dollars).
In the wake of Balotelli’s stellar play, a Balotelli Act that would grant citizenship to a child born to foreign parents living in Italy has become a hot issue in the country. The player`s scoring ability on the field has not only helped revitalize the spirit of Italians, who are under heavy pressure due to massive national debts, but has also accorded them a serious task.