Why Always Him? Balotelli’s Top Controversies

Another day, another Mario Balotelli controversy. This time, the Liverpool striker’s landed in hot water for posting an allegedly anti-Semitic image on Instagram.

While most of Balotelli’s misdemeanours have been rather tame, they’ve also been rather regular. We take a look at some of his most notorious off-the-field incidents during a rather colourful career so far.

Because He Is Rich
The maverick striker had only just signed for Manchester City in 2010 when he hit the headlines after a car crash on his way to training. When police asked why he had over £5,000 in cash with him, he simply replied “Because I am rich”.

He’s also pranged a white Bentley into Vauxhall Cosra in Manchester and somehow contrived to crash while stopped at a set of traffic lights in Brescia. He was questioned again by police in Brescia after driving into the grounds of a women’s prison because he wanted to “look around”.

Getting Shirty
At just 24, Balotelli’s already donned five different clubs’ shirts in what’s shaping out to be quite a nomadic career. However, it’s sporting other club’s jerseys that’s landed him in the most hot water.

He caused a furore at Inter when he wore an AC Milan shirt on a TV comedy show, and was fined earlier this season by Liverpool for swapping shirts with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time. Admirable stuff from a man who finds it notoriously difficult to put on a training bib.

Internal Bust-Ups
From training ground bust-ups with managers to run-ins with youth players, it’s easy to see why some Liverpool fans were wary of his potential negative effect on the team spirit at Anfield.

He famously had to be pulled apart by coaches during a clash with Roberto Mancini at City, where he also got into bother for throwing darts at youth team players. Liverpool fans won’t be surprised to hear most of the darts missed their intended targets.

Micah Richards also had a training-ground punch-up with him, after questioning the Italian’s efforts during a five-a-side match.

Balotelli’s lack of respect for players of other clubs has also sparked controversy. In 2010, he claimed he’d never heard of Jack Wishere after beating him to the Tuttosport Golden Boy trophy.

The following year he was immediately substituted by Mancini during a US friendly for, basically, taking the piss when clean through on goal – a disrespectful pirouette and backheel failing to find the net against LA Galaxy.

Why Always Social Media?
Balotelli’s latest online controversy is just the latest in a long line of social media faux pas. During the World Cup he tweeted that he wanted a kiss from the Queen if his Italy side beat Costa Rica. Luckily for Her Majesty, they didn’t.

Just a month later he posted (and quickly deleted) a picture online of him pointing a gun at the camera accompanied by the caption “a big kiss to all the haters”. It was the tipping point for AC Milan, who quickly shipped him off to Liverpool.

Causing Fireworks
He’s also made the headlines for a series of other off-the-field incidents – some true, some believable and others possibly apocryphal. He famously became the face of a firework safety campaign just days after burning down his bathroom.

Other stories sound credible but have never been verified. Mario’s allegedly done everything from handing a grand to a tramp after a large casino win to adopting a stray cat that hung around City’s training ground.

It’s hard to determine if he really did hand out £50 notes to Mancunian shoppers while dressed as Santa, or if he did indeed return with a Vespa, a trampoline and a Scalectrix set when sent to the shops by his mother for essentials.

What is clear is that this week’s scandal won’t be the last to engulf one of football’s most colourful and madcap characters.