Shalom Life | March 27, 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.”

Op-Ed: Lena Dunham’s 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend' Piece is Thoughtless and Offensive Op-Ed: Lena Dunham’s 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend' Piece is Thoughtless and Offensive TrendingHarvey Weinstein Takes Home Humanitarian Award, Urges Jews To Kick anti-Semites "in the Ass” Harvey Weinstein Takes Home Humanitarian Award, Urges Jews To Kick anti-Semites "in the Ass” TrendingJason Segel Tapped to Write/Direct New 'Lego' Movie Jason Segel Tapped to Write/Direct New 'Lego' Movie Trending
 

Op-Ed: Obama, not Netanyahu, is Killing the Two-State Solution

March 27, 2015 | By Ben Cohen, JNS.org
Op-Ed: Obama, not Netanyahu, is Killing the Two-State Solution

The U.S. President has never really empathized with the emotions that govern Israeli perceptions of the wider region

Read More

Op-Ed: Lena Dunham’s 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend' Piece is Thoughtless and Offensive

March 27, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Op-Ed: Lena Dunham’s 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend' Piece is Thoughtless and Offensive

In her latest literary endeavour, 'Girls' star Dunham tries to come across as funny by comparing her boyfriend to a dog; she doesn't

Read More

James Deen to Play Himself on Showtime's 'Happyish'

March 27, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
James Deen to Play Himself on Showtime's 'Happyish'

The prolific Jewish porn star will appear in a cameo on the new show out on April 26th

Read More

Woman Exposes Herself To Minors At Arizona Bar Mitzvah

March 27, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Woman Exposes Herself To Minors At Arizona Bar Mitzvah

Lindsey Radomski is being charged by police after allegedly exposing herself to, and performing oral sex on, minors at a Bar Mitzvah this past Saturday

Read More

Association Assisting Holocaust Survivors Needs Your Help To Make Their Passover Seder Possible

March 27, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Association Assisting Holocaust Survivors Needs Your Help To Make Their Passover Seder Possible

The group, which holds an annual Passover Seder, is in danger of having to cancel their event due to the lack of funds needed to help the 450+ survivors who, without them, will be celebrating alone this year

Read More

Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO]

March 27, 2015 | By Tali Farkash & Liron Nagler-Cohen
Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO]

Song is their own version of Hasidic singer Yaakov Shwekey's hit "Cry No More"

Read More

Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger

March 26, 2015 | By NoCamels Team
Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger

Social media giant incorporates Magisto, an app that turns photos and videos into a short animated film

Read More

Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen

March 26, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen

The deli, which was sold five years ago and closed earlier this year, is back in Pancer's hands and won't be leaving them any time soon

Read More

More Headlines