Shalom Life | March 03, 2015

Mario Balotelli: The Jewish Hero of Euro 2012?

Italian star adopted by Jewish parents

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: June 29th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

Mario Balotelli: The Jewish Hero of Euro 2012?

Mario Balotelli’s two goals on Thursday didn’t just propel his Italian squad past Germany and into the Euro 2012 finals to face Spain while setting off a wild celebration of Italian supporters, but his performance was also a source of nachas for the worldwide Jewish population.

For a religion that never shies away from acknowledging its own prominent celebrities, the Italian soccer hero and Manchester City striker is no doubt an unlikely, but now very much appreciated and welcomed member of the Tribe.

Balotelli, in fact, wasn’t born Jewish. He was born to Ghanaian immigrants in Sicily in 1990, and as an infant suffered from life-threatening health complications.

With his family unable to provide him with the proper medical assistance, he was put up for adoption at two years old and entrusted to Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, his Jewish foster parents.

The Balotellis were a white family who lived in a villa in a small village near Brescia, in northern Italy. At first, he stayed at the Balotellis during the week and returned to his family on weekends. He eventually grew closer to his foster family and took their surname.

Two days before the start of Euro 2012, he and his Italian teammates paid a visit to Auschwitz. There, Balotelli sat by himself on the train tracks and appeared more struck than anyone else on his team by the surroundings, according to journalists.

Throughout the tournament, Balotelli has coped with being the victim of racist abuse, as Italian neo-Nazis have spread hateful messages on the internet claiming he should not be allowed to play for Italy due to his background.

“Balotelli’s black and Jewish. He should play for Israel not Italy,” wrote a US-based website called Stormfront, run by white supremacists. The website was closed down in Italy by Jewish authorities following complaints regarding racist posts about the Italian striker.

Italy’s coach Cesare Prandelli called the racism “a social problem” rather than “an Italian problem.”

After Balotelli vowed to walk off the pitch prior to the tournament if he suffers racist chanting, Prandelli declared that “if Mario gets any problem, I will give him a big hug on the pitch.”

During the tearful visit to Auschwitz, Balotelli told his teammates about a box of letters that his Jewish adoptive mother, Silvia, kept underneath her bed.

On Thursday, he dedicated his two-goal match against Germany to Silvia.

“At the end of the game when I went to my mother, that was the best moment. I told her these goals were for her,” he said. “I waited a long time for this moment, especially as my mother is not young anymore and can’t travel far, so I had to make her happy when she came all the way here.”

Maroon 5 Hang Outs With 10-Year Old Superfan With Down Syndrome [VIDEO] Maroon 5 Hang Outs With 10-Year Old Superfan With Down Syndrome [VIDEO] TrendingDrake Ties The Beatles Billboard Record Drake Ties The Beatles Billboard Record TrendingHarvey Weinstein Enlists Zac Posen to Revive Charles James Harvey Weinstein Enlists Zac Posen to Revive Charles James Trending
 

Top 20 Under 40 - Adam Bledin

March 03, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Top 20 Under 40 - Adam Bledin

Bledin is the President and Creative Director of LAZYPANTS.

Read More

Simon Wiesenthal Center Calls For The U.S. To Pull Out Of The Muscat International Book Fair

March 03, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Simon Wiesenthal Center Calls For The U.S. To Pull Out Of The Muscat International Book Fair

The book fair, which promotes anti-semitic literature, has Jewish groups appalled by America's support.

Read More

New ‘Gaza Man’ Game Promotes War Between Israelis and Palestinians

March 03, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
New ‘Gaza Man’ Game Promotes War Between Israelis and Palestinians

The game, available for download in the Google play store, encourages Palestinians to fight against Israelis and "liberate" the land

Read More

Lauryn Hill Returning To Israel

March 03, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Lauryn Hill Returning To Israel

The singer/songwriter will be performing in the Holy Land for the first time since 2007

Read More

Steven Spielberg to Direct Jennifer Lawrence as War Photographer

March 03, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Steven Spielberg to Direct Jennifer Lawrence as War Photographer

Spielberg will direct the upcoming adaptation of 'It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War'.

Read More

Jay Baruchel’s ‘Man Seeking Women’ Gets Second Season

March 03, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Jay Baruchel’s ‘Man Seeking Women’ Gets Second Season

FXX announced that the comedy will be returning for atleast one more year.

Read More

Maroon 5 Hang Outs With 10-Year Old Superfan With Down Syndrome [VIDEO]

March 03, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Maroon 5 Hang Outs With 10-Year Old Superfan With Down Syndrome [VIDEO]

Adam Levine and his band made Christopher Warner's dreams come true.

Read More

Jews Top Forbes Annual List Of Billionaires

March 03, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Jews Top Forbes Annual List Of Billionaires

The list is out, and ten of the fifty wealthiest billionaires are members of the Tribe

Read More

More Headlines