Controversy never far from shirt-swapper Balotelli
LONDON (AP) — Even when Mario Balotelli isn’t scoring goals — and that’s too often at the moment — the striker can’t stay out of the spotlight.
The Liverpool forward was criticized by manager Brendan Rodgers for swapping shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at halftime of his team’s 3-0 Champions League loss on Wednesday. Balotelli faces internal action.
Here is a look at some past controversies:
THE JERSEY BOY: During a live TV show in March 2010, while an Inter Milan player, Balotelli accepted a jersey of the team’s fierce rival, AC Milan, held it up to his chest with a big grin and decided to put it on. No wonder then-coach Joe Mourinho described Balotelli as “unmanageable.” The player joined Manchester City three months later.
THROWING DARTS: At City, Balotelli’s reputation as a troublemaker only increased after it emerged in March 2011 that he had threw a dart at a youth team player, midway through his first season with the club. No one was hurt in the incident at the club training ground and he escaped punishment after being spoken to by City officials.
WHY ALWAYS HIM? After scoring one of City’s goals in a 6-1 win over Manchester United in October 2011, Balotelli lifted up his jersey to reveal a message on a T-shirt: “Why Always Me?” The message came a few days after a dramatic incident at Balotelli’s house. Firefighters were called in the early hours because a firework set fire to a curtain in his bathroom, sending smoke billowing through the house. Police said it was an accident and didn’t take any action. Balotelli, who had been messing about with friends, said he “got unlucky.”
MANCINI SPAT: After a bad tackle by Balotelli on teammate Scott Sinclair in training, then-City coach Roberto Mancini grabbed his compatriot’s bib in frustration and the pair had to be separated. The incident was captured by photographers watching a session that was closed to the media. Balotelli was sold by City less than a month later.
PRISON BREAK: It was reported in October 2010 that Balotelli was detained after driving into a women’s prison in Italian city Brescia without authorization. Balotelli and his brother, Enock, were questioned by prison officers after trying to enter the prison, the Gazzetta dello Sport reported. The brothers were released without charge.