Mario Balotelli is the subject of a Football Association investigation after posting an image on Instagram that prompted accusations of racism and anti-Semitism.
The Liverpool striker reposted an image of the Nintendo character Super Mario on his social media feed that contained the words “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a jew”. Balotelli received widespread criticism for the image, which he deleted on Instagram, and took to Twitter to deny making an offensive reference to Judaism. “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please,” wrote the Italy international in reference to his foster mother, Silvia.
The image of Super Mario is headed “Don’t be racist” and goes on to state: “Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican”, before the reference that has landed the 24-year-old in trouble.
Balotelli described reposting the image of Super Mario, with whom he shares a nickname, as “my unlucky moment” in another tweet but his defence may not prevent an FA charge.
A spokesperson for the governing body has confirmed it is looking into the matter and the organisation can take action where it believes an individual has “bought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race”.
Balotelli, who will miss Liverpool’s visit to Leicester City on Tuesday because of a groin injury, is expected to be reminded of his responsibilities on social media by the Anfield club.
Queens Park Rangers’ Rio Ferdinand, then at Manchester United, was fined £45,000 and found guilty of improper conduct in 2012 for a tweet that characterised Ashley Cole as a “choc-ice”