Referees will 'drive Mario out of England'

Balotelli's agent says striker will be forced to quit if 'strange' weekly officiating continues

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."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn