Would Messi get the same criticism for Balotelli’s back-heel?

by Andrew McCarten

Branded a brat, disgrace, and names much worse by many quarters of the football world, it seems 20 year old Mario Balotelli cannot get anything right. In his most recent controversial incident, the mercurial striker was hauled off immediately after attempting an audacious back-heel in the last match of the ever so important Herbalife World Football Challenge match against the LA Galaxy, after scoring from the spot earlier in the half.

The substitution took place in the 32nd minute of the match, and Balotelli exchanged words with Roberto Mancini before taking his place on the bench, and failing to come back out after the first half. Balotelli has never been far from the spotlight and criticism, and given his past, it would seems his reputation is almost beyond repair even at such a young age, with this another mark on his record. Because, to many, an attempted back-heel in a pre-season friendly might be seen as immature, at the most. If fellow City team mates Edin Dzeko or Shaun Wright-Phillips would have attempted it, it would likely not have been anywhere near as covered and condemned as it has been.

In fact, what would the reaction be if Lionel Messi attempted it, or another Barcelona player? Would he be praised for his creativity and love of the game, with the same old cliches bandied about regarding the “Barcelona way,” La Masia, “mas que un club,” total football, etc? Even with the attempt ending up off-target like Balotelli’s, the little Argentine would likely be praised and saluted for his unique skill and artistic license with the ball, rather than having questions about his professionalism and maturity raised; a model for the youth to enjoy football and play beautiful. So why is Balotelli judged so much more harshly? This is not to in any way defend Mario Balotelli for previous actions, or to make a definitive statement on his personal character and his flaws or lack thereof. Rather, football fans should take this most recent “incident” and put it more into a rational, unbiased perspective.

With no preconceived notions of the player, the action in itself is barely noteworthy, certainly not front page news on the world’s major football media tabloids and websites. But it seems Balotelli, rightly or wrongly, has been labelled the ever-troublesome problem child yet again.

7 Responses

  1. Kristjan says:

    You’re completely missing the point. He threw a tantrum after being substituted for the backheel, which is the disgraceful part. I am the first one to bring up Barcelona’s mythical high horse, but come on.

  2. Bob says:

    If my auntie had a bollocks she’d be my uncle.

    Pretty daft comparison. Messi wouldn’t have tried it, and wouldn’t have reacted that way. Even if he did, he’s the best player in the world, one of the greatest of all time, hasn’t got a history of acting like a muppet.

    So what point was it you were trying to make?

  3. Amílcar Tavares says:

    I think the question is: Would Messi do Balotelli’s back-heel?

  4. Varun says:

    How is this even a worthy article.
    This is crap and stupid to be honest and direct.

    And the answer to the Q is: NO
    Because Messi isn’t a tight-ass and plays for the team unlike this buffoon of a player called Balotelli.

  5. Mahesh says:

    I am not sure if you are one of those persons wanting to be against the team most adored by lots of people just for the sake of being different or if you are sincerely foolish enough to bring in Barcelona and Messi into this. When have seen anyone in the current Barca team in a friendly or a professional game try stupid tricks. Ronaldinho did a lot, not to show off but as a fun expression.
    Now take Balatolli and tell me he was not showboating. Even if you do say not, what has he achieved in football that he can afford to do something like this. Let him achieve something and no one will complain (Ex, CR7) . Just saying I am great is not achieving something. So get your thoughts straight and read your article twice before publishing.

  6. EbanksBlake says:

    I think the criticism of the article is unfair; it’s always interesting to look at something from a different perspective, but I do have to say that I completely disagree with the author.

    Although it’s fair to say that the game hardly had the importance of CL final, it’s still a game, and also an important part of pre-season; a striker put through on goal should take the chance whatever game they’re playing in.

    Also, the back-heel was an obvious and vulgar example of showboating, something Messi has never been guilty of; even when he dribbles past entire defences he doesn’t use overblown tricks and skills, just pace, intelligence and ability. Balotelli’s back-heel was, although over-publicised and over-criticised, an insult to the opposition and the sense of competition that should be apparent in any game of football.

  7. Robert says:

    The problem is Mario’s unprofessional and disrespectful reaction to being substituted. Comparing it to Messi unfortunately does not make sense, I have never seen Messi show such a petulant attitude and in a one-on-one situation I cannot see Messi trying that. He would have scored or, at a minimum, tested the goalkeeper. Friendly fixture or not, his job as a striker is to score goals

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