This cartoon ran in Sunday's Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's top-selling sports newspaper. It's Balotelli, fresh off the Azzurri triumph over England, climbing Big Ben. (Fun fact: It's officially "Elizabeth Tower" now.) Yes, Balotelli is playing the part of a giant gorilla, and yes, 90 percent of European soccer racism is based on referring to black players as monkeys or apes.
This is, you know, not okay, and the Gazzetta has been hearing from concerned readers. The paper put out a statement today, and if you guessed it was one of those "I'm sorry YOU got upset" non-apologies, collect your free banana at reception.
"We can honestly say it is not one of the best efforts by our great cartoonist. If someone found it offensive we are sorry. This newspaper has always fought against racism in stadiums and denounced monkey noises aimed at Balotelli."
So we're all cool? Cool. At least until Mario actually picks up a newspaper. (What? It could happen. He needs something to set on fire in his hotel bathroom.)