Mario Balotelli has been charged by the Football Association for his 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 has now been charged by the FA.
A statement from the FA on Friday afternoon reads:
It is alleged the Liverpool player breached FA Rule E3 in that his posting was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper.
It is further alleged that this is an ‘Aggravated Breach’ as defined by FA Rule E3 as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.
Balotelli faces a minimum of a five game suspension, but has until 6pm on Monday, 15 December to respond to the charge.
He is likely to plead not guilty to the charge, according to Ian Herbert of the Independent.
Standard from Balotelli. Naive fella.
— Steve McVeigh ??? (@BoxingScience1) December 5, 2014
The Italian international is currently sidelined through injury and will miss Saturday’s Premier League clash between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield.
Since signing for the Reds from AC Milan for £16 million in August, Balotelli has scored just two times in 14 appearances.
During a press conference on Thursday, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was coy on speculation suggesting Balotelli may be sold in the January transfer window.
“He’s very much still a Liverpool player, but he’s injured at the moment so there’s nothing more to add from me,” Rodgers told a room of media.
When asked whether he still considered Balotelli a risky signing and whether his future needs to be considered with the January transfer window on the horizon, Rodgers replied, “He’s not fit to play, so my concentration is on the players who are fit and available to play. That’s my only thinking at the moment.”