Mario Balotelli is facing the possibility of FA discipline and even match banning after he was criticised for anti-Semitism for posting a controversial image on Instagram.
The Liverpool striker uploaded, before swiftly deleting, a picture of the Nintendo character Super Mario in reference to his on-pitch nickname.
The old meme was originally employed to spread a message of anti-racism, and reads that Mario has characteristics of many different races. “Be like Mario, he's an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican,” the main text reads.
However, at the bottom of the image, the lines “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew” have been added.
After receiving a number of comments condemning the post, Balotelli sent this slightly back-handed apology to his followers on Twitter:
( my Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please)Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 1, 2014
Hours later, he followed it up with a longer, more heartfelt message of regret:
I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that (...) pic.twitter.com/UlNeNlEz9MMario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 2, 2014
Liverpool Football Club were quick to express their concerns for Balotelli’s behaviour. A spokesperson from the club said: “We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player.
“We will be speaking to the player about the issue.”
However, current chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and former FA executive Simon Johnson called for Balotelli to face disciplinary action over the post.
“We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Read the full story here.
After gambling at Manchester's 235 Casino, Balotelli walked away with winnings of £25,000. Feeling generous, he gave a homeless man 'with ginger dreadlocks and a beard' £1,000. Click here for the full story.
3/17 Parking fines
During his time in Manchester, Balotelli racked up £10,000 in parking fines and had his white Maserati impounded 27 times. Once he was pulled over by the police who wanted to enquire why he had £5,000 in cash on his front seat. Balotelli reorted: 'Because I am rich.' Click here for the full story.
Balotelli was 'bored', so threw darts at Manchester City youth team players to pass the time. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli explained prior to Euro 2012 how he would deal with racists: 'I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.'
In a pre-season friendly for AC Milan, two fans ran onto the pitch to demand a selfie with the striker. Rather than shy away like most would in such a situation, Balotelli was more than happy to oblige.
Mario isn't a one trick pony. He can also iron, dance and read - all at the same time. Click here to watch.
For reasons never fully explained, Balotelli once sported a chicken hat. Thankfully it was a trend that never caught on.
Getty Images; Sky News
A bright spark at the body that co-ordinates firework safety material enlisted Balotelli soon after it was reported that some had been set off in the bathroom of his Manchester mansion.
10/17 Why always me?
The day those stories emerged, Balotelli scored for City in the Manchester derby, giving him the perfect opportunity to reveal *that* t-shirt.
11/17 The Queen
The Queen may be wary of Balotelli's return to England. During the World Cup, he said he wanted a kiss from Her Royal Highness should Italy do England a favour by beating Costa Rica. Thankfully for everyone involved, they didn't.
During a Europa League defeat to Dynamo Kiev, Balotelli had to be substituted in the 57th minute with his face swelling up. It emerged afterwards that the Italian is allergic to some types of grass.
During an Inter Milan press conference to announce the appointment of Andrea Stramaccioni as interim-manager, Balotelli interrupted proceedings to say hello. He was enjoying a day-off from Manchester City at the time. Click here to watch.
Balotelli's naked torso was to be one of the defining images of Euro 2012 - but he's not overly keen on celebrating goals. 'I don't celebrate goals, I'm just doing my job,' he infamously said. 'Does a postman celebrate when he delivered the mail?'
Balotelli has always appeared to be well loved by his team-mates. Perhaps it's the pranks he plays, like this one on Edin Dzeko. Click here to watch.
Balotelli was reportedly questioned by police in Italy when he was found taking a look around the grounds of a women's prison in Brescia. Apparently he simply fancied having a look. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli's relationship with former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was a complicated one. It has been described as a father-and-son type relationship - only the sort where they fight each other during training.
EAMONN & JAMES CLARKE
“We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football.”
According to FA social media guidelines, race-related breaches of conduct carry a minimum five-match ban.
In September this year, Balotelli found himself on the receiving end of social media racism following a message he posted during Manchester United’s 3.5 defeat against Leicester City. The abusive tweets sent to him by trolls were investigated by Merseyside Police.
It isn’t the first Instagram gaffe the Italian international has made, either. During the World Cup in July, he came under fire for posing staring down the barrel of a shotgun.
“Kiss to all who hate me,” he captioned the image.
Again, perhaps sensing his glaring error of judgement, he deleted it soon afterwards.
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