Mario Balotelli apologized for an Instagram post containing alleged racist and anti-Semitic references, triggering a Football Association (FA) investigation. The Liverpool striker came under fire after posting a photo of a computer game character, Super Mario, on Monday.
The 24-year-old Italian posted the picture with the heading “Don’t be a racist!” that sparked an angry response from the public and from the Jewish Leadership Council, The Telegraph reported. The post reportedly breached the FA’s social media guidelines, which could lead to a minimum of a five-match ban for Balotelli if he is charged. The now-deleted post stated, “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.”
Balotelli responded to the criticism on his Twitter account before apologizing for the post.
( my Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please)
— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 1, 2014
I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that (...) pic.twitter.com/UlNeNlEz9M
— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 2, 2014
"We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found," Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, said Monday night, according to The Telegraph. "We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football."
A spokesperson for Liverpool reportedly said that authorities were aware of the controversy over the post, and they would speak with Balotelli about the issue.