Football: Balotelli given one-match ban over racist post

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli (above) has been suspended for one match, fined £25,000 (S$51,000) and ordered to attend to an education course after making racist and anti-semitic comments. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli (above) has been suspended for one match, fined £25,000 (S$51,000) and ordered to attend to an education course after making racist and anti-semitic comments. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been suspended for one match, fined £25,000 (S$51,000) and ordered to attend to an education course after making racist and anti-semitic comments.

Balotelli had already accepted a charge of an aggravated breach of Football Association rule E3, relating to references of ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality or religion or belief, after his posting of an image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram which included the words "jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew".

The Italy international did not request a personal hearing, but submitted written mitigation to an independent disciplinary panel, who handed out the punishment on Thursday.

Balotelli will now miss Sunday's Premier League clash with Arsenal at Anfield, subject to any appeal.

Liverpool said they were awaiting the full written verdict from the panel but did not rule out further action against the player by the club.

"The club acknowledges the decision reached by the independent panel and due consideration will be given to the written judgement once we receive it from the FA," a Liverpool spokesman said.

"Any further action taken by ourselves in relation to this matter is between the club and player."

The day after his posting - which he quickly deleted - Balotelli apologised by writing on Twitter: "I apologise if I've offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context (it) may have the opposite effect."

But the former Manchester City and AC Milan star was unable to avoid a ban that added to a troubled first season at Liverpool for the controversial forward.

The FA said in a statement: "Following an independent regulatory commission hearing today Mario Balotelli has been fined £25,000, suspended for one-match with immediate effect, subject to any appeal, and warned as to his future conduct after he admitted breaching FA rules in relation to social media.

"The charge was that an image the Liverpool player posted on social media was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA rule E3(1).

"Furthermore, the posting was considered to be an "aggravated breach" as defined in FA rule E3(2) in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.

"Mr Balotelli has also been ordered to attend an education programme."