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If You Jump Up and Down, Balotelli Dies: Racism and Player Abuse in Italian Football

Italian football has been in crisis for a number of years as global transformations and internal politics have manifested themselves in corruption, fan violence and financial insecurity. In addition to these, there has also been an increase in racism on the terraces as increased global migration has altered the demographics of cities across the peninsular. Although racism is widespread across many ethnic groups, African footballers in particular have become the symbolic objects of abuse from rival supporters. One footballer in particular has been constructed as an important symbol of this increased global migration: Mario Balotelli. As the son of Ghanaian immigrants, but raised as an Italian by adoptive parents, Balotelli symbolises the transformations within Italy as it comes to terms with its contemporary multiculturalism. Through analysis of the comments posted on internet forums by fans, this article demonstrates the how inter-club rivalry is fuelling player abuse and racism.