Mario Balotelli: Calls for FA investigation as Liverpool striker apologises over 'anti-Semitic' Super Mario picture on Instagram
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has apologised after he was criticised for anti-Semitism when he posted a controversial picture on Instagram.
Balotelli, who is nicknamed Super Mario on the pitch, uploaded a meme of the Nintendo computer game character of the same name.
The post features the picture of the Super Mario's plumber character with the caption at the top "don't be racist".
It continues: "Be like Mario. He's an Italian plumber created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican."
But it was the wording at the bottom that has landed him at the centre of calls for a Football Association Investigation.
It reads: "Jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew."
Shortly after he uploaded the image, the 24-year-old was barraged with tweets from other online users voicing their condemnation at the image.
He then deleted it.
Initially in response he tweeted: "My Mom is Jewish so all of you shut up please".
Some time later he took to Twitter again and posted a more in-depth response to his previous post, indicating that he regretted any offence caused and that it was meant to be "anti-racist with humour".
He said: "I apologize if I've offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context may have the opposite effect. Not all Mexicans have moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money.
"I used a cartoon done by someone else because it has Super Mario and I thought it was funny and not offensive. Again, I'm sorry."
Liverpool Football Club issued a statement about the post.
( my Mom is jewishso all of u shut up please)— Mario Balotelli(@FinallyMario) December 1, 2014
A spokesperson from the club said: "We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player.
"We will be speaking to the player about the issue."
Former FA executive and current chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Simon Johnson said he believes Balotelli should be investigated.
I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that (...) pic.twitter.com/UlNeNlEz9M— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 2, 2014
He told the Daily Telegraph: 'We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found.
'We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football.'
It isn't the first Instagram retraction the Italian International has had to do as during the World Cup in July he was criticised for posing staring down the barrel of a shotgun.
He captioned the image, "kiss to all who hate me".
He deleted it again soon after.
In September Balotelli found himself on the receiving end of social media racism following a message he posted during Manchester United’s 3 - 5 defeat against Leicester City.
The abusive tweets sent to him by trolls were investigated by Merseyside Police.
Belfast Telegraph Digital