The Euro Zone



King Kong ding dong: Paper's Balotelli cartoon offends

Apology of the week: “If someone found it offensive we are sorry.”

The response of Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport to complaints about a cartoon by Valerio Marini it featured showing Mario Balotelli depicted as King Kong on top of London’s Big Ben. Seriously.

“We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist. At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted . . .. those that accuse Gazzetta (and poor Marini) of racism are going overboard.

“This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility.”

Translation: “Some of our best friends are black”?

No sense: From Merson

PAUL MERSON saluted Andy Carroll’s bravery in the Liverpool Echo yesterday – in no sense at all.

“He should be ashamed of himself, it’s an absolute disgrace he didn’t take a penalty for England. He cost £35m – it’s his job to score goals. Ashley Cole is the best left back in the world. It’s his job to defend, not score goals. That’s what Carroll is there for. How he doesn’t take a penalty in front of Cole is disgusting. It winds me up so much. Your best takers go first. It’s no good having Lionel Messi waiting to take a penalty if your team is already out, is it?”

No, but as the Echo pointed out: “Carroll took one penalty for Liverpool last season, against Chelsea in the Carling Cup, and missed. Cole regularly steps up in such situations and converted from the spot in the Champions League final on May 19.”

Exposure: Cheeky fan

You might have read about the England fan who attempted to put Alessandro Diamanti off his penalty on Sunday night by, well, lowering his pants and exposing himself behind the goal?

It was all for nothing in the end, an unflustered Diamanti scoring handily enough.

“I was just trying to do my bit,” 35-year-old multi-millionaire Tim O’Leary told the Sun when they tracked him down. O’Leary lives in a €7.5 million Surrey home near England’s John Terry and owns a city trading company.

“It was a spur of the moment thing. I’d do anything to see England win, but sadly it didn’t work.”

How did his wife Klara, watching on telly back home, take it?

“She found it very, very funny,” said Tim.

Poor fella.

Capello: Lost in translation

"After watching the Italy game I think that Rooney understands only Scottish. That's because he only plays well in Manchester, where Sir Alex Ferguson speaks Scottish."

Nice that Fabio Capello holds no hard feelings after young Wayne suggested he couldn't understand a word the Italian said.

Roy Hodgson said it was a "cheap" shot. "Capello is entitled to his opinions, I suppose but I always think it's a bit cheap to kid on a player who was so anxious to do well."

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