Mario Balotelli is likely to plead not guilty after the Football Association charged him with misconduct tonight over an inflammatory social media message, which contained an anti-Semitic stereotype.
The player faces a ban for a message described as "offensive" by the Jewish Leadership Council, which has already led to a public rebuke from his club. It is understood that Balotelli has not decided how to respond and will reflect on his next course of action, having been charged. But he is highly likely to challenge the governing body’s contention that he breached FA Rule E3 by retransmitting an Instagram image depicting the computer game character ‘Super Mario’ alongside a racial stereotype and anti-Semitic remark: “Jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
Liverpool acknowledged tonight that the player will go through the necessary process to answer the charge. That suggests that he will not follow Rio Ferdinand’s course of action, in October, when he declined to attend an FA hearing when he was charged last month. A Liverpool spokesman said: "We acknowledge the FA's decision and the player will work through the process to answer the charge. While that process is on-going the club will not be making any further comment."
Ferdinand’s decision effectively not to acknowledge the disciplinary process went down particularly badly with the three-man commission that heard his own case, after he was charged for his derogatory ”sket” comment on Twitter, which he claimed was meant in fun. That commission also took his previous conduct into account, including the episode in which he referred to Ashley Cole as "choc ice" on Twitter - resulting in what was a surprisingly high tariff of three-match ban and £25,000 fine. A more likely outcome in the Balotelli case would be a fine.
Balotelli does not appear to any previous conduct to take into consideration. Though there was no suggestion from Liverpool what his course of action or defence might be, he may possibly conceivably cite the work which he has done to promote an anti-racism agenda.
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
A defence is likely to be built around the context of the message. It was Balotelli’s intention to mock racial stereotypes. The image was initially published by the UK-based Lad Bible website – which, though known for misogynistic messages, lists strict anti-discriminatory guidelines regarding all photographs, videos and images posted under its name. Balotelli has already tried to defend his actions on Twitter. "My Mom is Jewish so all of u [sic] shut up please," he wrote, a reference to his foster mother.
The FA said in a statement: “Mario Balotelli has been charged by The FA in relation to a recent posting on social media. It is alleged the Liverpool player breached FA Rule E3 in that his posting was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper.
It is further alleged that this is an ‘Aggravated Breach’ as defined by FA Rule E3 as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.The player has until 6pm on 15 December 2014 to respond to the charge.”
- More about:
- Liverpool FC