This is the cartoon image that appeared in the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport depicts Italian striker Mario Balotelli as King Kong
A cartoon portraying Italian striker Mario Balotelli as King Kong has triggered racism controversy and forced publisher Gazzetta dello Sport to seek apologies to the footballer.
Other than Balotelli himself, the racially motivated cartoon reportedly offended anti-discrimination group Kick It Out that said in a statement, “Mario’s very presence in the Italian team is symbolic on so many levels. The Italian media ought to champion this individual rather than singling him out as a scapegoat and somehow inferior to his international team-mates.”
The cartoon, which appeared on Gazzetta on the day Italy played England in the Euro 2012 quarter-final, showed the charismatic striker on top of Big Ben – a clear allusion to the famous movie King Kong in which King Kong is shown on top of the Empire State Building in New York. The drawing immediately elicited strong responses from many readers and football fans.
“At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted. The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise”, the Italian newspaper said in a statement.
However, Gazzetta authorities trashed accusations of racism brought against them, claiming that the newspaper has always objected to any form of racism in sporting venues and has decried the way Balotelli was treated by spectators during a recent match.