23. Balotelli Italian football shirt

Dr Marco Antonsich

Mario Balotelli is a well-known football player. Born in Palermo, Italy to Ghanaian parents, he was adopted by an Italian family and obtained Italian citizenship in 2008. He started playing for Italy’s national team in 2010.

Balotelli offers an interesting entry point to explore public attitudes about nation and diversity in the age of migration. On the one hand, as a player for the national team, he 'represents' Italy and is highly cherished by children of migrants born in Italy. On the other hand, he has been the target of racist attacks by people who claim that “there are no Black Italians”.

My research on the New Italians, financially supported by the European Commission, examines this tension between the demographic change many western societies are undergoing and the difficulty the majority society has in reimagining a sense of collective national identity.

Balotelli Italian football shirt - Dr Marco Antonsich