Thu, Feb 07, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Berlusconi brothers in hot water over Mario Balotelli

Reuters, ROME

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his brother Paolo are under scrutiny over maverick Italy striker Mario Balotelli, with one accused of racism and the other of signing him for their club AC Milan only to win votes in this month’s national election.

Paolo Berlusconi, AC Milan’s vice president, was lambasted in social media after calling former Manchester City forward Balotelli “the little black boy of the family.”

A video of his comments, made on Sunday after a political event, was going viral after it was posted on various Web sites.

“And now let’s go and watch the little black boy of the family, the crazy head,” Paolo Berlusconi says in the video.

A spokesman for the Serie A club said yesterday there would be no comment on the video, which was recorded on the day Balotelli made his debut for AC Milan after being transferred from English Premier League club City last month.

Criticism of Paolo Berlusconi’s remarks took off after foreign media began writing about the video, which had received relatively little attention in the Italian press in the past few days.

“Balotelli is back in Italy for 2 minutes and already had racist comments made about him. Why do black players even play in Italy?” one person tweeted.

While Paolo was taking the heat for his comments, Silvio Berlusconi was still under fire over his motivation for bringing the hot-tempered Balotelli back to Italy in the first place, having previously said Milan did not need a “rotten apple.”

For the past week, Silvio Berlusconi has been the regular butt of jokes by comedians and attacks by his political rivals over the transfer, which they see as a clear attempt to woo Italian soccer fans to vote for his center-right coalition.

Last week L’Unita, the paper of the main center-left party, said nationwide fans of Milan could influence about 1.3 percent of the vote.

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