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The Balotelli Rules

In the most recent podcast, I discussed a little bit about the Balotelli Rules. Balotelli was not simply allowed to sign a contract and return like other players. Galliani came up with a list of rules, and even Mihajlovic contributed to them. Most are pretty straightforward, and have even been made by other clubs for other players before. But considering the abuse that Balotelli is constantly receiving and the constant witch hunt that the media has going for him, it makes you kind of wonder: What is the deal with the Balotelli Rules?

He said he'd agree to any rule, just for the chance to play at Milan again

Here are the rules from La Gazzetta dello Sport:

• He will not damage the image of the club via social media. His Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts will be closely monitored and he is absolutely forbidden to spread news which concerns the club.
• He will ‘tone down’ his extravagant hairstyles and wear clothes in keeping with the style of a club like Milan.
• He must stop smoking
• He has agreed not to go over a specific blood alcohol level and is also banned from nightclubs.
• He must not be late for training at all.

His punishment for breaking these rules will be a series of fines.

Certainly allowing a player to post a pic like this on Instagram permanently tarnishes the club's reputation

The social media rule… it’s understandable. A lot of players have said or done some really dumb things on social media. Like just last week, former Liverpool player Ryan Babel got himself into a whole heap of trouble with some very sexist comments on Twitter. The difference is that Balotelli is treated as badly as him for not saying much of anything at all. So the rules for Balotelli are actually different than for the other footballers.

Being told what to wear and how he can wear his hair is simply beyond my comprehension. What is wrong with his look? Why must he tone it down? What exactly does this mean? We’ve had players with much more extreme hairstyles and looks before, and no one said anything to any of them, to my knowledge. Because the rules are actually different for Balotelli than for the other footballers.

He mentioned the club. On social media. This is a NIGHTMARE.

The other rules make sense, and he wouldn’t be the first footballer to be reigned in on things like drinking, going to nightclubs, smoking, or being late for training. Only we never heard much about those things before. Which is really bizarre, since the media would write about him if his breathing changed or he rolled over in his sleep. So how did they miss him getting too drunk and spending too much time in nightclubs and being late to training? My guess is that maybe he wasn’t. Or maybe it happened only once for each thing or something. Which is hardly fair to impose a rule that has a punishment. But then again, the rules are actually different for Balotelli than for the other footballers.

Gotta tone down that look, Mario. It's too extreme.

 I was devastated when Balotelli left. And now I don’t really know what to think about him coming back. He is already under such close scrutiny, with more lies than truths being reported about him. Now those same liars journalists have more to look for and try to catch him in the wrong: the witch hunt just got even better for them. Now they can tattle-tell on him all day long if they even think he’s made a misstep. Which is easy, since some of the rules are so vague, the media will have no problems twisting them to their advantage for clicks and views. And the racists… oh, they are so happy that Balotelli hasn’t been called up for the Italian NT since the World Cup. Now they have more fodder, too. More ways to hurt him, more ways to try to get him in trouble or get him sent off, too. Now, instead of just racially abusing him at kids’ games when Balotelli is not even there, they can add the rules to their list of things to heckle him with when he plays.

I don't know any other player who is told to smile and celebrate when he scores.

Are these rules even necessary? Balotelli has humbly subjected himself to every question and criticism, and he says he’s changed. You know, from the person everyone made up that he was before. But if he is changed from those false perceptions, then the rules aren’t necessary. And if he hasn’t, are a few fines really going to make the difference? Of course not. Because the rules aren’t there to help him stay on course. They’re there to justify people’s misconceptions of him and give them something to target him for. They’re not for Balotelli at all, they’re for his haters. Another set of hoops the overly-maligned man has got to jump through just to be able to remind people of how awesome he is on the pitch. Yesterday, he did that with a goal and an assist, then winning a penalty and allowing a teammate to take it. Meanwhile, in Firenze, some players who call themselves Italian struggled to score against lowly Malta in a Euro qualifier. Italy could have had a forward who could really score. They have this amazing 25 year-old who is a beast. But they didn’t have him yesterday, because of the witch hunt that is behind the Balotelli Rules.

This post inspired by the music of The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry"