Mario Balotelli could quit Premier League over 'unfair treatment' by referees warns agent
Tuesday 24 January 2012
Mario Balotelli's agent has warned his player could quit English football over what he believes is unfair treatment from referees.
The controversial Manchester City striker is facing a four-match ban after being charged with violent conduct by the Football Association following a clash with Tottenham's Scott Parker on Sunday.
It is merely the latest in a catalogue of incidents concerning the enigmatic Italian both on and off the field since he joined City in August 2010.
Agent Mino Raiola is adamant the 21-year-old is enjoying life at City but feels his reputation may be counting against him on the field.
Raiola, tempering earlier remarks made to Italian media, told Sky Sports News: "We are not (looking to move) - our understanding has been openly declared.
"He would love to stay in the Premier League for a long time and won't move this transfer window, for sure. It's not our intention, let that be clear.
"Mario doesn't want to leave the club. It's fantastic, he loves it and feels at home.
"But if every week some referee (does this) with Mario, maybe you say, 'That's enough' and he goes to another country.
"But I spoke to him for a long time yesterday and although he was disappointed (about the charge) he said, 'It's fantastic here'.
"He said, 'Obviously the people of Manchester United don't like me, which I can respect and understand but fans from all over the country like me and I like playing in England's stadiums. I'm starting to feel at home'."
Raiola had earlier suggested he felt there might be a conspiracy against foreign players such as Balotelli and City team-mate Vincent Kompany, who was also suspended for four games earlier this month.
He told Italian reporters: "I want to be balanced but I'm worried because when English players are involved in more serious things, nothing happens, whereas when foreigners are involved, such as Balotelli or Kompany, they were treated harder.
"If I find that there is something strange against Balotelli, my duty is to protect and then take him away.
"In this case I would speak with City, I'd ask them Balotelli's price and would look for the best team for him, as there are only six or seven teams he can play for."
City have until 6pm tomorrow to announce whether or not they intend to contest the charge against Balotelli.
Yet after failing in their appeal to overturn Kompany's red card against Manchester United earlier this month, it seems the club are likely to accept the ban, albeit reluctantly.
First team coach David Platt said: "What we think as a football club has no relevance whatsoever.
"You have to take everything into consideration if you want to go for an appeal because there is a sanction in place that dictates they can increase it if they consider it to be a frivolous appeal.
"I don't think anybody thought we would win an appeal with Vincent Kompany, even though the majority of people didn't feel he deserved a red card or a four-match ban.
"It shows the futility of an appeal sometimes and the negative is that we are likely to be without a player for four games."
Platt conceded that, in slow motion, the challenge on Parker - all the more controversial because Balotelli went on to score the winning goal against Spurs - looked "poor".
Despite that, he is irritated by the process which has seen a charge brought after referee Howard Webb told the FA he did not see the incident at the time.
Platt said: "It seems inconsistent. I have seen it from an angle where I can think the referee saw it live, like I did.
"Other people saw it live and didn't react. Nobody, not one of the Tottenham players or staff.
"It is when you slow it down that all the reactions come.
"I think he [Webb] did (see it) to be honest, that is my opinion, but you have to take him at face value that he has not."
He added: "I don't know what has gone on but there seems a huge inconsistency in refereeing matches on a Monday morning.
"Shouldn't you revisit everything that has happened over the weekend?
"That doesn't take away from the incident but shouldn't you take it to the letter of the law and referee every match on a Monday morning under Law 12?"
If City accept the charge, Balotelli's ban will begin with the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow.
Raiola said: "Mario feels very uncomfortable. He is really disappointed and thinks it's unjust.
"He feels he is being judged more harshly than the rest by the referees. It's clear whatever he does... maybe other people get away with it.
"My feeling is the club will not appeal. They've had time to think about it and it's up to them - but if it was up to us there would be an appeal."
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