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."
Latest in Sport
Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
Angel Di Maria to Bayern Munich: The reasons why Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben will not be joining Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo storms out of interview after being asked about possible sale of Manchester United target Sergio Ramos
Manchester United transfer news: No 9 shirt left vacant - a hint that new striker will be arriving?
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Kyrgios set for heavy fine for giving up game during loss to Richard Gasquet
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy