London: Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has accepted a Football Association charge of making racist and anti-semitic comments on social media, according to reports on Friday.
Balotelli was charged a week ago after he posted a controversial image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram.
The image included the message: “Don’t be racist – be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber created by Japanese people who speaks English and looks like a Mexican. Jumps like a black man and grabs coin like a Jew.”
Balotelli’s offence was deemed by the FA 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.
The 24-year-old has not requested a personal hearing, but has instead submitted written mitigation in the hope of persuading the FA to give him a fine instead of a suspension.
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.
Italy international Balotelli apologised for the posting last week, 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.”
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”.
Since his £16 million ($25.1m, 20m-euro) move from AC Milan in the close-season, Balotelli has struggled to make an impact at Anfield.
He is yet to score a Premier League goal for the Reds and his latest off-field issue has further clouded his already-troubled campaign.