Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli escapes further punishment

 

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli will not face disciplinary action over a studs-up challenge on Arsenal's Alex Song, the Football Association have confirmed.

The governing body say they cannot take retrospective action because the incident was seen by at least one of the four match officials in City's 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

The decision still leaves Balotelli facing a three-match suspension for his sending off for two unrelated bookings in the same game.

A statement from the FA read: "Retrospective action in relation to the incident involving Mario Balotelli of Manchester City and Alex Song of Arsenal, which occurred in the 20th minute of Sunday's game, will not be taken.

"Where at least one of the officials has seen the coming together of players retrospective action is not taken, regardless of whether they have seen the full extent of the challenge.

"Retrospective action can only be taken in scenarios where none of the match officials saw the players coming together.

"The normal scenarios in which retrospective action is taken are for 'off-the-ball' incidents.

"Retrospective action was introduced for off-the-ball incidents where there was no contest for possession and could not be deemed to be re-refereeing an incident.

"In agreement with FIFA, this is how 'not seen' incidents are dealt with retrospectively in England.

"It is a policy that is agreed with all football stakeholders."

Balotelli could have faced a suspension of up to nine games following the incidents on Sunday had the FA taken action over the Song incident.

That is because it would have counted as a fourth red card of the season for the 21-year-old.

Balotelli was sent off at Liverpool in November and was then was hit with a retrospective four-match ban for stamping on Tottenham's Scott Parker in January.

Referee Martin Atkinson missed his challenge on Song on Sunday but later dismissed him for two bookable fouls on Bacary Sagna.

Balotelli could now be available for City's final three Premier League games of the season against Manchester United, Newcastle and QPR but his future at the club remains uncertain.

Manager Roberto Mancini said he would "probably" sell the player in the summer with his controversial involvement at Arsenal merely the latest in a long line of misdemeanours.

Mancini even suggested the FA should take retrospective action over the Song tackle.

Balotelli yesterday apologised for his conduct and said a decision over his future would be made in the summer.

A lengthy ban would also have jeopardised the player's chances of playing at Euro 2012 with Italy.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli dropped Balotelli earlier this season because of his poor disciplinary record.

In addition to his domestic suspensions, Balotelli has also missed three European games after a sending off last season.

In all, he has now been sent off four times since joining City from Inter Milan two years ago.

Balotelli said: "I'm really sorry for what happened and for the disappointment I've caused Manchester City, and particularly to Roberto Mancini, whom I respect and whom I love.

"I would like very much to play for the national team, but yesterday [Sunday] I committed two fouls - they were not reaction fouls.

"I have not broken [Prandelli's] code of ethics. I have already missed out on the national team for one stupid thing - I will not do it a second time.

"Regarding my future, we will see at the end of the season. I will talk with the club and we'll see."

Balotelli's sending off on Sunday came on a costly day for City as defeat left them trailing rivals Manchester United by eight points in the title race.

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