Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli facing FA ban after 'troubling' act of Instagram post

By Carl Markham

The Football Association is awaiting Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli's response to his posting of an apparent anti-Semitic and racist image on social media.

Balotelli has until 6pm tomorrow to respond to the governing body's request, after which time they will make a decision on whether to charge him or not.

The minimum FA ban for a race-related offence is five matches.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, in welcoming the FA's involvement, called the player's actions "troubling" despite his contrition and apology.

"Balotelli's sharing of images which use unacceptable language and appeal to classic antisemitic tropes is troubling," said the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Vivian Wineman.

"We were pleased to see his immediate retraction and apology but such language has no place in public discourse.

"We welcome the decision by the FA to investigate this matter."

Balotelli reposted an image from the computer game Super Mario on his Instagram page with the heading "Don't be a racist".

The text then read: "Be like Mario. He's an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican, he jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew."

After criticism began to mount online, the 24-year-old deleted the offending item and responded on his Twitter account: "My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please". He also described reposting the image as "my Unlucky moment".

The Liverpool striker issued an apology on Tuesday morning, claiming he was attempting to be "anti-racist with humour" but the 24-year-old Italian is now facing the prospect of a misconduct charge.

The Football Association is also investigating an allegation of racial abuse during Middlesbrough's game with Blackburn last weekend after Rovers striker Rudy Gestede appeared to react angrily to a gesture from the crowd.

Gestede scored a dramatic and controversial equaliser five minutes into stoppage time in a contest which ended 1-1, with his late leveller denying Boro a spot in the Sky Bet Championship's top two.

Following the final whistle, Gestede seemed visibly upset by something which came from a section of the home support and was pictured appearing to mimic a gesture to his Blackburn team-mates.

The incident was included in referee Mark Clattenburg's report and, on receiving that evidence, an FA spokesman confirmed that the national governing body has reached out to both clubs to ask for their observations.

It follows Tuesday's news that Boro boss Aitor Karanka has been charged by the FA for alleged improper conduct after he was sent to the stands by Clattenburg in the aftermath of Gestede's goal.

Boro were incensed that the Rovers leveller was allowed to stand after goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos appeared to have been fouled as he went up for the decisive cross.

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