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Mario Balotelli picks up second yellow card with flying kick to head (GIF)

Mario Balotelli received his second yellow card of the World Cup on Tuesday.Balotelli, who was subbed out after the first half in fear that he would pick up a third yellow, was booked after he jumped through the air in the 22nd minute and kicked Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira in the head.

Mario-Balotelli-kick-to-head

It was a pretty senseless play from the Italian striker, with his team needing a draw to advance beyond the group stage. Italy went on to lose 1-0 and will not advance beyond the group stage. You have to wonder if Balotelli would have made a difference in the second half.

Also see:
Video: Luis Suarez bites opponent during match
Claudio Marchisio sent off with red card

GIF via SB Nation
Photo: Twitter/KickTV

Mario Balotelli walks on water for SI cover

Mario Balotelli SI cover

Controversial soccer star Mario Balotelli is on this week’s Sports Illustrated cover, marking just the third time a non-American soccer player has appeared on the cover of the prestigious magazine. International icons Pele and Maradonna are the only others who have experienced the honor.

The cover photo itself is phenomenal. Shot by Jeffery A. Salter for SI, it shows the Ghana-born Italian player walking on water. Really, the photo was taken at a Miami hotel with a pane of plexiglass over the pool.

In Grant Wahl’s cover story on Balotelli, the AC Milan striker addresses many of the wild rumors about him. Most of them, he says, are not true. From showboating and getting benched to being muzzled by his teammates, Balotelli has been featured at LBS for all sorts of reasons. One of the more controversial stories in which he was involved was when an Italian newspaper published a cartoon that depicted Balotelli as King Kong. Balotelli says he did not face racism growing up, but he has multiple times since.

“You can’t delete racism,” Balotelli told Wahl. “It’s like a cigarette. You can’t stop smoking if you don’t want to, and you can’t stop racism if people don’t want to. But I’ll do everything I can to help.”

The SI story is a good read on a controversial, colorful athlete, who seemed to recognize how big of a deal it was for him to be on the cover as a foreign athlete. You can check out the whole thing here.

H/T Dirty Tackle via Arsen D

Mario Balotelli commissioned a statue of himself in his hometown

Mario-Balotelli-flexingMario Balotelli may be Mario Balotelli’s biggest fan, which is why it is no surprise to hear that he has commissioned a statue of himself to be built in his hometown of Brescia, Italy. But not just any statue — one of Balotelli striking his signature flexing pose after scoring a goal.

“I received the commission, but have never actually met Balotelli, so I am working from photographs,” local artist Livio Scarpella told Il Giornale di Brescia newspaper, via Football Italia. “I presented various sketches, but Mario wanted to be immortalised in the pose after a goal: muscles in evidence and an expression to challenge the opponents.”

Yeah, so that’s happening. Scarpella described the statue further.

“I imagined him as an athlete from ancient times,” the artist said. “The statue will be between the classic and pop style, in platinum and coloured bronze with the eyes made of precious stones.”

This isn’t exactly a shocker. We’re talking about the same Balotelli who needs his teammates to muzzle him after he scores a goal and was once benched for missing an easy goal because he was too preoccupied with showing off. A statue of himself that he is providing the funding for simply adds to the legacy.

H/T Dirty Tackle via Extra Mustard

Mario Balotelli would be a UFC fighter if not a soccer player, because why not

In conjunction with the release of Manchester City’s new kits (soccer speak for “jerseys”), Umbro, the kits’ manufacturer, interviewed some of the Premier League champion’s players. And, because the folks at Umbro are no dummies, Mario Balotelli was one of those interviewed.

The questions Balotelli was asked weren’t far off of ones you’d hear on a first date or in a Larry King interview: Which musician do you like? (Drake!) Why wear No. 45? (lucky number!). But when he was asked about what sports he’d play if he weren’t a soccer player, the never-disappointing Balotelli, well, didn’t disappoint. Without hesitation, he said he’d be a UFC fighter.

“Probably I would want to do UFC,” he said with the most confident look on his face. “Yeah. I really love it.”

So, that’s now settled. Laugh all you want, but you can’t deny Balotelli has the same inflamed ego and misfit personality to be an MMA fighter.

But Balotelli only didn’t answer the question with “Batman” because he hasn’t seen the new Batman movie yet. Yes, being Batman is a sport if Mario Balotelli damn well says it is.

H/T Dirty Tackle

Mario Balotelli depicted as King Kong in Italian cartoon (Picture)

A cartoon image appearing in the Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport publication before Sunday’s Italy-England match at Euro 2012 depicted Italian soccer star Mario Balotelli as King Kong.

The cartoon shows Balotelli hanging on England’s iconic Big Ben swatting soccer balls. It seems like the message is that Balotelli will help Italy destroy England in the match.

Italy won 4-2 on penalty kicks to advance to the semifinals.

Usually it’s Balotelli who needs to be muzzled from saying something stupid, but in this case, Gazzetta did something that could be considered much more offensive than anything Balotelli could have said.

I really don’t see how they could have published this without realizing there might be a problem. A radio host was recently fired for a similar offense, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone at the publication reprimanded for the questionable cartoon.

Image via Cristiano Balducci h/t Darren Rovell

Mario Balotelli muzzled by teammate after scoring goal

Mario Balotelli was muzzled by a teammate after scoring a goal to help Italy beat Ireland at Euro 2012 on Monday.

Italy was up 1-0 when Balotelli scored an acrobatic goal in the 90th minute off a corner kick to put the game out of reach. After he scored, teammate Leonardo Bonucci ran over and covered Balotelli’s mouth as a preventative measure to keep the loose cannon from spouting off.

“Whatever he said, he said it in English and I didn’t understand it,” Bonucci said after Italy’s 2-0 win. “I put my hand in front of him because Mario is instinctive, and that’s also his strength. We spoke with him and he knew how he should have behaved.”

It’s understandable why he felt the need to cover his teammate’s mouth. Balotelli is the same guy who set his house on fire with some fireworks last October. He’s also produced one of the most embarrassing plays on a pitch that we’ve seen. You never know what the 21-year-old striker is capable of, and after coming off the bench as a substitute, he was probably already irritated.

Italy finished second in Group C play behind Spain and will face the Group D winner on Sunday.

Video of Balotelli’s goal and the odd celebration is below:

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Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli Benched After Showboating Shot Goes Wrong

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli tried to show up the LA Galaxy during their friendly Sunday, but he ended up looking like a turd. Check out the video:

EPL Talk says Balotelli was yanked and received an earful from his coach. As well he should. I know these Premier League players have little respect for MLS teams, but they don’t have to make it so obvious. Nice try, chump.