Mario Balotelli accepts FA charge but offers mitigation

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has accepted a Football Association charge in relation to making racist and anti-semitic comments on social media but has offered mitigation for his actions.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 25, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli looks dejected as his side draw 0-0 with Hull City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Italy international was charged a week ago with breaching FA rule E3(1) as a result of 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".

His offence was deemed to be an 'aggravated breach', as defined by rule E3(2), as it included a reference to ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality or religion or belief.

However, the 24-year-old has not requested a personal hearing but has instead submitted written mitigation.

The striker apologised for the posting last week, writing on Twitter: "I apologize 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."

Balotelli deleted the offending post as criticism began to mount but FA guidelines state that "deleting an inappropriate posting, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken".

The minimum ban for a race-related on-pitch offence is five matches, but that would not apply in a case such as Balotelli's, for which no specific punishments are outlined.

Liverpool and the striker will hope any punishment is lenient, particularly as he has just returned to training after being sidelined by a groin injury since November 8 and could be in line to rejoin the squad for Sunday's clash against arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.