Referees will 'drive Mario out of England'
Balotelli's agent says striker will be forced to quit if 'strange' weekly officiating continues
A C Grayling
A. C. Grayling is an English philosopher and founder of independent undergraduate college, New College of the Humanities. He is the author of several books including The Refutation of Scepticism (1985), The Meaning of Things (2001) and The Good Book (2011).
Wednesday 25 January 2012
The Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli could eventually be forced out of England by referees, his agent, Mino Raiola, warned last night.
"Mario doesn't want to leave the club. It's fantastic, he loves it and feels at home," Raiola said, with Balotelli facing a four-game ban for stamping. "But if every week some referee [does this] with Mario, maybe you say, 'That's enough', and he goes to another country."
Raiola suggested the possibility of official imbalance. "If I find that there is something strange against Balotelli," he said, "my duty is to protect and then take him away."
City's first-team coach, David Platt, yesterday disputed referee Howard Webb's claim that he had not seen Balotelli's stamp on Scott Parker on Sunday, and criticised "Monday morning refereeing".
Balotelli was given a four-match ban for violent conduct on Monday, on the grounds that Webb had not seen the incident during Sunday afternoon's game beteen City and Tottenham Hotspur, but that had the referee seen it he would have sent Balotelli off.
Platt said that he had now watched the incident many times and from several angles and was convinced Webb did see it at the time: "I have seen it from an angle that makes me think the referee saw it live," Platt said. "Nobody, not one of the Tottenham players or staff or the referee, reacted to it live." Platt argued that if Balotelli was going to be retrospectively punished, then all unpunished fouls should be reviewed.
In his report, the referee noted that he had seen City defender Joleon Lescott's forearm smash on Younes Kaboul and had decided to let play continue. "There seems to be a huge inconsistency in refereeing matches on a Monday morning," Platt argued. "If you are going to look at law 12 [violent conduct], shouldn't you then revisit everything that has happened over the weekend under law 12?"
The FA confirmed last night it would not be charging Peter Crouch over an incident during Saturday's match between Stoke and West Bromwich when Crouch appeared to make contact with Jonas Olsson's eye area.
Platt said that City were unlikely to appeal against Balotelli's ban. They have until 6pm tonight to lodge an appeal, but since City would risk a further ban for Balotelli should the appeal be deemed frivolous, they were wary of doing so. If there is no appeal, Balotelli's ban will begin with tonight's Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool. Platt argued that since Manchester City did not appeal over the dismissal of captain Vincent Kompany for a clean but studs-up challenge on Nani during the recent FA Cup defeat by Manchester United, Balotelli's case would be too much of a risk. Platt conceded the incident "did not look good" for his player.
"Is there anyone in this room who thinks we might have won an appeal over Vincent Kompany?" he asked. "I don't think there is but I think the majority of people watching would say he didn't deserve a red card, so that shows the futility of the appeal."
However, Platt conceded that his striker's offence had been a serious one and that it would be difficult to defend in any appeal. "Whichever way you look at it, when you slow it down to all the angles, it doesn't look good," he said.
Should City accept the punishment, Balotelli will miss not just tonight's semi-final at Anfield but also three Premier League fixtures – away at Everton, a club who have been a persistent thorn in their manager Roberto Mancini's side, away at Aston Villa and at home to Fulham.
Winning through to their first League Cup final since Dennis Tueart's overhead kick secured the trophy in 1976 would be by far the steepest hurdle, especially given the 1-0 deficit they carry into the semi-final second leg. Balotelli's display in the first leg was one of his worst in a City shirt; sluggish, sulky and sometimes uninterested. City's first-half performance, which saw a naïve penalty given away by Stefan Savic, was entirely devoid of inspiration.
Liverpool have lost at Anfield only once since Kenny Dalglish's return, a little over a year ago. Platt, however, remained confident in City's players: "We believe we have enough in our squad to turn the tie around."
Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way
Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat
Latest in Sport
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Isco will provide just as great a threat at Anfield as the injured Gareth Bale would have
Angel Di Maria injury: Manchester United sweat over fitness of record signing as he is in danger of missing Chelsea clash
Video: Boxer Vido Loncar brutally assaults referee following defeat
Chelsea vs Maribor player ratings: Cesc Fabregas? Eden Hazard? Didier Drogba? Who was the star of the show at Stamford Bridge?
- 1 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 2 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 3 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 4 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms