The Football Association has contacted Mario Balotelli to ask for his observations on a social media post which appeared to contain anti-Semitic and racist references.
Balotelli reposted an image from the computer game Super Mario on his Instagram page which included the comment “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew”.
The Liverpool striker quickly deleted the posting on Monday night and issued an apology, claiming he was attempting to be “anti-racist with humour” but the 24-year-old is now facing the prospect of a misconduct charge.
An investigation has begun and part of that involves the FA asking the player for an explanation.
Press Association Sport understands Balotelli, currently injured so not in the squad due to play Leicester in the Premier League on Tuesday night, has been contacted this morning and he has until 6pm on Friday to provide a response.
FA guidelines regarding when to charge someone over a comment on social media state “deleting an inappropriate posting, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken”.
The Italy international will be spoken to by his club. “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,” said a Liverpool spokesman.
The controversial image of Super Mario appeared with the heading “Don’t be a racist”. The text then read: “Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican, he jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
I very much doubt Balotelli's retweet was deliberately racist or anti-Semitic on his behalf. Just extremely naive.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 2, 2014
After criticism began to mount online Balotelli deleted the offending item and responded on his Twitter account: “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please”.
He also described reposting the image as “my Unlucky moment”. Balotelli also posted an apology on Twitter, stating: “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.”
The minimum FA ban for a race-related offence is five matches.