Mario Balotelli is not having much luck with Instagram. First there was the “naive” re-post of a crass joke picture featuring Super Mario, now he’s being taunted for a video rant in which he tells his critics to “shut up”.
Is it petulant for a professional footballer to lash out like this? Probably. Is he entitled to call out the social media trolls? Of course he is.
Balotelli has trodden a fine line when it comes to social media, but there is nothing wrong with this latest post. It’s honest, brutally so – you can see his eyes glisten as he stares down the barrel of the camera phone.
“Do you know me? Did you ever talk to me, personally? Do you know what I’ve been through in my life?,” he asks, presumably of the critics who berate him for his performances this season. “You just saw me play football on the pitch so, man, shut up.”
Balotelli’s form has largely been disastrous for Liverpool this season. It’s fine to say that, it’s what watching sport’s all about. But you don’t have to dig very deep on Twitter to find that what Balotelli (and many other footballers for that matter) have to put up with can be more sinister and more personal.
Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said that 50 per cent of the complaints it received during the 2013-14 season were related to social media. A police investigation was launched after Balotelli was sent hate messages in September 2014.
It’s not hard to imagine why, on an evening alone with a phone in his hand, the Liverpool striker might decide enough was enough. Modern football has done its darndest to neuter the personalities within the game, which is why when the occasional shot is fired in the Wild West of social media, it can be shocking.
Balotelli doesn’t explain who exactly he’s telling to “shut up” in his video rant, but clearly something has rattled the 24-year-old.
Go ahead: hate the play, hate the lack of goals, hate the form, hate the club for signing him. But don’t hate the player.