–Following racial and anti-semitic remark
Mario Balotelli, the Liverpool striker, faces a Football Association investigation and possible five-match ban for an inflammatory social media message that has earned him a public rebuke from his club and an angry response from the Jewish Leadership Council.
Balotelli posted and then swiftly deleted an image on his Instagram page depicting the computer game character ‘Super Mario’ alongside a racial stereotype and anti-Semitic remark – “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
Simon Johnson, the former FA executive and now chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council reacted angrily to post on Monday night.
“We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found,” Johnson said. “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.”
The provocative language in Balotelli’s post, even if he claims it to be an ironic anti-racist message, leaves the Italian open to a breach of the FA’s social media guidelines. If charged, the minimum ban on race-related breaches is five games.
At the very least, the striker has had to explain his intentions to his club and the swiftness with which it was removed demonstrated Liverpool concerns. The FA is sure to explore it further.
“We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player,” a Liverpool spokesman said on Monday evening. “We will be speaking to the player about the issue.”
Balotelli tried to defend his actions on Twitter. “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please,” he wrote.
FA rules are clear that players are also responsible for any third-party postings on their account, even if they are attempting to demonstrate the racial attitudes of others.
FA Rule E3 states: “Participants are deemed responsible for any postings on their account. The fact that a posting may have been made by a third party will not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken. In addition, re-tweeting another person’s posting may lead to disciplinary action if the original comment was improper. Finally, deleting an inappropriate posting, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken.”
The governing body would also determine the context of such a posting, even though Balotelli may have been mocking racial stereotypes – he has been the subject of horrific abuse throughout his career – rather than advocating the message in the illustration.
The FA would fully assess this prior to determining whether further action is required, although plenty of players have fallen foul of the pitfalls of using social media in recent season.
Rio Ferdinand was fined and banned for three games for a tweet referencing gender this season, having earlier incurred the FA’s wrath for appearing to endorse someone’s else’s offensive tweet regarding Ashley Cole.
Balotelli’s post comes soon after Dave Whelan, the Wigan Athletic chairman, claimed in an interview that “Jews do chase money”, a phrase that, along with his belief that “chink” is not an offensive description of a Chinese person, resulted in an FA charge.