World Cup 2014: Mario Balotelli's Charity Work
Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.
By Bianca Brown
Tuesday, June 24: Italy v. Uruguay
For fans observing the highs and lows of the World Cup, the matches rage on today with Italy v. Uruguay; Costa Rica v. England; and Cote D’Ivoire v. Greece. Fans are looking to trailblazers such as Mario “Super Mario” Balotelli (Italy) to set the tone of the games. What many fans do not realize is that the star player overcame great obstacles, including hunger and poverty, in order to become successful.
The number of people living in poverty in Italy is at almost 5 million. Even though the country puts resources toward investing in poorer countries, the nation is still working to increase its agricultural innovations to create a more food-stable nation, and also implementing nutrition education programs to emphasize the importance of reducing poverty and hunger.
Mario Balotelli is of Ghanaian descent, but was raised in Italy, first by his birth parents, and then by Italian foster parents. Balotelli entered foster care at the age of 3, after his father became gravely ill and could no longer provide for the family. Now that he is an international soccer star, Balotelli is said to give roughly half of his yearly earnings to charity. He helped contribute to a children’s school in Sudan, and is a supporter of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), as well as several programs in different countries that support children living in poverty. Balotelli’s story, like those of many other players, should encourage fans of the sport to learn more about what they can do to help end hunger and poverty.
Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.
Photo: Mario Balotelli wearing the 2014 Italy home kit. (Wikimedia Commons)
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