Reaction to Mario Balotelli shows bar stool mentality of BBC's punditry team

Many would feel it absurd to admit to themselves how utterly fascinated they are with Balotelli, so they lash out and blame him. Step forward Alan Hansen, he'd probably tell you he has little interest in the player or man but he can't stop talking about him. His coverage and criticism of the young Italian borders on obsession and his reaction to him after yesterday's game was as odd as anything Balotelli has done recently.

Hansen wasn't far away from standing up, ripping his mic off, and pointing angrily at the player. And what had he done? Well, Balotelli had left the pitch distraught after the defeat, he may have been one of a few Italy players to do this but we won't know because the cameras didn't focus in on them.

Balotelli probably wanted to rush to the dressing and cry his eyes out but didn't want that reaction to be on the pitch. Or perhaps he went to the dressing room for some other reason. Frankly, does anyone really care?

Are we not stepping over the line into boy-band infatuation when we're bothered by such a scenario after such a game? As it happens Balotelli returned to the pitch quickly and collected his runners-up medal and, like several team mates, couldn't hold the tears back.

He's on the front page of Gazzetta dello Sport and they paint him as a young footballer devastated by his and his teams failure to do better in the final. Yet in England many are mocking him. There's a palpable jealousy and that's understandable but the way that manifests itself is certainly ugly and petulant.

The lashing out at him and assuming the worst of a situation is as childlike as much he is accused of himself, and he's 21 - Alan Hansen is 57. The 'other Alan', as Gary Lineker dubbed Shearer, has been equally as critical. Before yesterday's game there was an effort led by a seemingly embarrassed Lineker to gloss over the dastardly duo's recent criticism of the Italian by listing his achievements and respecting his talent.

They'd been giving him grief prior to the match against Germany and those insults had been made to look silly given his performance in the game.

Yet by half-time in the final the Beavis and Butthead pairing were back on their soap boxes and at the end of the game the opportunity to slam Balotelli seemed to get Hansen quite aroused. There was little reason for his excited outburst but Balotelli going to the dressing room to sort himself out was used to justify everything he'd said about the player previously.

It almost felt like payback after the striker had the audacity to put in a good performance in the semi-final and make their pre-match pontification seem less prepared than usual. The clown had made them look like clowns and that just couldn't be left unanswered. 

Subsequently Spain and their brilliant victory wasn't the most exciting post-match issue for Alan Hansen, he saved his verve to criticise Balotelli. Hansen said Balotelli had been petulant throughout the match which seemed detached from reality but reality isn't a necessary component when it comes to his criticism of the young Italian.

Commentators and pundits have received much criticism throughout this tournament, a lot of it unfair, but if anything tells you that the BBC's Two Alans set-up isn't worth the fortune thrown at it, it's their bar-stool reactions to twenty one year old Mario Balotelli.

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All pundits are at it, I don't know how many times I've read that Balotelli will either score or get sent off. Deadly serious that those are the only options available to him as he has to combust.


Also Johnny Giles on RTE, mentioned before Balotelli's penalty against England that Mario will step up and hit it straight to Hart as he's no bottle. This is Balotelli who is recognised as a great penalty taker (i've read somewhere he's never missed one but not sure) and has a huge range of achievements. No mention when he scored of course.

I've been following football avidly for more than 50 years and have never seen a better penalty taker. Matt LeTissier was class and Balotelli may turn out to be better. To suggest he lacks bottle is simply crass. He is probably the best and most talented of current 21 year old  European footballers. It's overpaid clowns like Hansen, Sourness and Shearer that should grow up, they don't have the excuses of youth to fall back on!


I'm not black but have noticed the attitude towards black footballers in the UK media. The authorities have rightly clamped down on neanderthal fans but have ignored the media. When the state broadcaster handsomely pays the likes of Hansen & Lawrenson to broadcast their personal bigotry we are in serious trouble. People who have complained to the BBC have been told that the comments on Balotelli were "balanced and fair" which leads me to think that Ofcom need to become involved.

I found the link below whilst on Twitter and it appears that this sort of bigotry and bullying is well established.

There are a number of pundits who regularly over react to anything Balotelli does. Worst among them are Jamie Redknapp, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. I went to school with Lawrenson and have always followed his career with interest. In recent years however his opinions on certain topics and players appear to have become more and more radical and extreme. I do not recall the same amount of criticism being levelled at Gazza, McCoist, Cantona or even Rooney for their frequent 'misdemeanours'. There are plenty of examples of young, gifted players making frequent errors of judgement but Balotelli gets pilloried by the likes of Hansen who is so out of touch its embarassing. I fervently believe that Redknapp, particularly, dislikes Balotelli because of his undeniable ability which far exceeds anything 'sicknote' managed. Stick to selling overpriced holidays Jamie until such time you can deliver a balanced opinion. Balotelli is a superb player who, on occasion, like numerous players before him, and no doubt after him, lets himself down. He is always quick to apologise to his manager, team mates and the fans. I have never heard any of these pundits apologise when they get things so badly wrong. Look at your selves before slating a truly gifted player.  

I agree with you. The nasty sneering personal vindictiveness shown by Hansen towards the 21 year old Mario Balotelli, is unacceptable to me and it should be unacceptable to the BBC. It should be unacceptable for Hansen & Co to treat any young player to that degree of contempt but when you consider the difficult social and family environment he endured as a very young lad and the vicious racism he has suffered throughout his youth, it  beggars belief. Instead of seeing him as an example of a young black man rising above his environment we have the spittle flecked rantings of this hugely over privileged wealthy, white and pompous oaf.

SKY sacked Andy Gray and Rodney Marsh for rather less than this has been has done. Grow a set BBC and do us the favour of binning Hansen. He'll go down a treat with the blockheads on Talk Sport!

Mario Balotelli has done some idiotic things on and off the pitch, and sometimes he has poor games and acts childlike, but the criticism is over the top, he is more often than not a magnificent player and if he tones down the attitude he may just be one of the best players of our generation at 21 he is ripping Germany to shreds, and got behind us more times than I care to remember and all at 21!

  I don't listen to Hansen as most of the time he sounds and looks too drunk to focus, punditry in this country is turning into 14 year old girls gossip in the corner of the toilets having a fag, slagging people off for no good reason and trying to turn people against them.

I don't get the Balotelli hype. He had one good game against Germany. He couldn't have missed the header the cross was that good and for the 2nd the defender slipped so he was given a one on one. Yes he dispatched it well but you'd expect a striker to score with that much one on one time. However Balotelli had these one on ones before in the comp and dilly dallyed so much he left defenders get back at him.

Yes he does stupid things on and off the pitch and has received way too many red cards for City. His temper lets himself and his team mates down. He has the off the pitch antics of Gazza and on field discipline of Joey Barton so of course pundits are going to talk about him. To suggest their criticism is racially motivated is ludicrous.

You know why the pundits spoke only about Balotelli going off after the match and no one else. because the camera only showed Balotelli. Now why would the cameraman focus on him, because they know he's a ticking timebomb.

Di Canio is right. He needs a good slap. As does his agent for coming up with such crap about his £200 million pricetag. And good timing to suggest it too, after his man hardly got a sniff against a side of world class players who are worth sums much greater than a 21 year old with delusions of grandeur and a massive chip on his shoulder.



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