x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Serie A: Another week, another headline for AC Milan's Mario Balotelli

It hasn't even been a month since Mario Balotelli returned to Italy and the AC Milan forward has already become a mainstay in the headlines.

AC Milan's forward Mario Balotelli looks on during the Serie A football match against Cagliari on Sunday. Alberto Lingria / AFP
AC Milan's forward Mario Balotelli looks on during the Serie A football match against Cagliari on Sunday. Alberto Lingria / AFP

Mario Balotelli has been back in Italy for scarcely half a month. Already the Italian media have a shorthand for "Why Always Me?", the phenomenon which quotes the phrase on a T-shirt Balotelli displayed during his headline-heavy spell with Manchester City.

In Italy, the magnetic pull of AC Milan's new signing towards controversy is now called WAM (Why Always Me?) syndrome.

Students of WAM suspect the syndrome has distinct patterns, that when a Balotelli controversy arises, another will soon follow, moving focus away from the first.

Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan's owner and the former Italian prime minister, would recognise this pattern from politics: if there is bad news, create more news.

Berlusconi's brother, Paolo, was last week recorded making an apparent racial slur towards Balotelli in a public meeting.

Milan's PR operation swung into action, announcing Paolo Berlusconi and Balotelli had spoken amicably of the incident.

Silvio Berlusconi, campaigning ahead of the Italian elections, then said in a jokey aside during a public address that Milan signing Balotelli could lose him votes from fans of other clubs, such is Balotelli's pantomime villain status. WAM, bam, new headline.

And come the weekend, a section of Inter Milan's followers at San Siro chanted "there are no black Italians" in reference to Balotelli. WAM, bam. Two weeks back in Italy, and Balotelli has learnt how seriously some compatriots take the battle against racism.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE