Yesterday, in a cracking game at the Etihad, Balotelli was once again at the centre of attention, plus ça change. He has be embroiled in a stamping controversy and I thought I would have my 2 cents. Now before I start I want to make it clear that on balance I think it is likely that there was malice in his intention, this isn’t some denial on my part. But “reckoning” and “knowing” something are two different things.
And to be honest I am amazed at the certainty that many people seem to have over this incident. It is, I contend, far from clear cut. Sure it *looks* bad, in super slow mo (which doesn’t half exaggerate these things I think) but there is a definite “case for the defence”.
For me this is three pronged. Firstly MB was off balance, at no point until he was firmly on the floor was he entirely in control of his body he was falling over after a tremendously powerful shot and being tackled. Whether or not he deliberately stamped on Scott Parker he was obviously struggling to regain his footing, that is clear to all.
I don’t know if any of you readers have ever fallen over, I have many times. Being something of a clumsy git, tripping over things, missing a step, walking backwards etc. One of the common things I do in a desperate attempt to stay up is take loads of the little stuttering steps, throwing (more out of hope than expectation) my limbs around trying to gain balance, often with illogical or unnatural angles. I bet, had someone consistently been lying on the floor near me on at least one occasion there might have been a movement that looked like it was aimed at them. I think it is possible (though not probable) that MB was doing the same.
Secondly, but on a related note, is the issue of MB’s momentum. He was spinning around really fast having taken a hugely powerful shot and then been tackled. That momentum would inevitably leave people slightly disorientated as to where they were putting their foot down.
Lastly, and for my money most importantly, if you look at the whole thing Balotelli was never looking at Parker his view was consistently the other way. Now a professional athlete may well have been able to have a good idea of the spatial reasoning. But it certainly for me casts a little doubt.
Whilst the video footage does look undeniably damning I really do believe there is a degree of convicting based on the offender. No real way to quantify this, but I am utterly convinced dad it been “Honest” Scotty Parker who did this to Balotelli, then I have **no** doubt whatsoever that a huge amount of the people damning MB would be pointing to the momentum, balance, and line of sight issues to claim that it was accidental and looked worse than it was because of the slow mo.
But whilst I probably lean toward it being intentional (even if I think there is enough “plausible deniability” for him to get away with this) one thing I am convinced of, with 100% certainty is that this was not aimed at the head specifically (as Paul Hayward in the Telegraph and many other seem to be suggesting today). Given the momentum, speed of movement, the lack of balance and the direction of Balotelli’s sight he would have to be a Jedi to have known exactly where any part of Parker was and if he was stamping on purpose (a pretty heinous sin wherever aimed) then going for the head just cannot be credibly aimed at him.
On Saturday I also watched the David Price vs John McDermott fight for the English heavyweight belt. The domestic Heavyweight scene is quite interesting at the moment with Price, Chisora and Fury all around (heck even Fraudley is making yet another ill fated comeback). In truth Price is the one I have seen the least of but he was frankly top draw on Saturday.
Yes McDermott was embarrassingly out of shape (I wonder how much better he would have done if he had the discipline to look the part. Maybe in the unfair close decisions little things make the difference?) but he has always looked a little flabby and has been a credible performer for a while. It is a truism that you can only beat what is in front of you and David Price looked like a future world champ in this comprehensive first round stoppage.
He is now the mandatory to Tyson Fury for the British belt and I for one would love to see it. You always get the impression Fury would happily have a fight with anyone in the local park so I doubt he would duck it, I do wonder if his “people” might think a little differently on the evidence of Saturday.
Right now I reckon Price wins, but I would love to see the fight if Fury could actually get in shape and do some real work in the gym on defence and footwork with a top trainer, that would be some fight. Either way a properly competitive fight, especially if on terrestrial TV has to be good for the sport of boxing and I for one cannot wait.
Since publishing this Balotelli has been charged with violent conduct by the FA. Will be interesting to see if he contests the charge. My understanding is that it is only on appeal that you can get the extra game ban (if frivilous) and that there is no penalty for requesting a personal hearing. Watch this space huh? Also interesting that Lescott wasn’t charged (I’d say his offence was just as blatant as Balotelli’s).