In Depth

Balotelli race storm over Super Mario ‘blacks and Jews’ quote

Liverpool striker in hot water after posting link to three-year-old 'anti-racism' image

He may have lost his touch in front of goal and is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, but Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli still has the killer instinct when it comes to generating headlines.

The Italian is once again at the centre of a storm after posting what appeared to be a racist and anti-Semitic message on his Instagram account.

Balotelli last night reposted an image of the cartoon character Super Mario, which has been doing the rounds on social media for years. It features a picture of Mario alongside a quote highlighting his diverse background. Although it purports to carry an anti-racist message, the picture features a line of text at the bottom that reads: "Jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew."

Balotelli on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/VAcSxgmBWL

 

— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) December 1, 2014

Now it appears the message, which was deleted soon after Balotelli posted a link on Twitter, could earn the player a five-match ban after the FA launched an investigation. It has already "earned him a public rebuke from his club and an angry response from the Jewish Leadership Council", reports the Daily Telegraph.

"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," explains the paper. "If charged, the minimum ban on race-related breaches is five games."

Balotelli's initial reaction to the row was to post a message stating: "My Mom is Jewish so all of u shut up please." But the player, not always known for his grace under fire, soon adopted a rather more contrite stance, apologising and pointing out that the point of the message was anti-racist.

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

Balotelli has suffered what the Telegraph describes as "horrific abuse" during his career and has made his views on racism clear, vowing to walk off the pitch if subjected to racist chants. In 2012 he declared: "If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to prison because I will kill him."

There appeared to be plenty of support for Balotelli in the wake of the latest incident. Almost 90 per cent of voters in a poll on the Daily Mirror website said the striker should not face an FA charge.

He can also point to the fact that the image he posted is hardly new. Versions of the picture have been doing the rounds on social media since at least 2011, while the actual image reposted by Balotelli is at least 18 months old.

However, FA guidelines are strict and the furore has erupted four days after the FA charged Dave Whelan, the Wigan Athletic chairman, over comments he made about Jewish people in an interview.

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