Italians of a Different Color: Sports, Citizenship, and Identity (student dialogue)
date: April 17, 2014
location: Villa Sassetti

“I am Italian, I feel Italian, I will forever play with the Italian national team.” – Mario Barwuah Balotelli

“Non Esistono Black Italians/Black Italians Don’t Exist.” – Banner held up at an Italian soccer game

The juxtaposition of this statement by one of Italy’s most controversial sporting figures Mario Barwuah Balotelli expressing his Italian identity, and a banner displayed by a group of Ultra fans at an Italian soccer game, captures the complexity of Italy’s current debate over immigration, identity, and multiculturalism.

Like many children born within Italy’s borders by foreign-born residents, Mario Barwuah Balotelli, was not granted Italian citizenship until the age of 18. This dialogue will address the complexities and contradictions of integration by looking at the politics of citizenship and national identity through the medium of sports. The speakers will debate Italy’s citizenship policy and also sport’s capacity to represent these Italian ‘others’ while establishing images of national identity that is black, white, yellow and, above all, Azzurra!