Mario Balotelli has apologised for his post on social media which provoked claims of racism and anti-semitism, with the Liverpool striker saying his intention was to be “anti-racist with humour”.
The Italy international 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 image of Super Mario – with whom Balotelli shares a nickname – 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,” before the final line, which has caused the controversy.
Balotelli quickly deleted the post, but it soon spread on the internet. The 24-year-old, who has been a frequent victim of racism himself, responded on his Twitter account by writing: “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please”. He also described reposting the image as “my Unlucky moment”.
Simon Johnson, the former FA executive and now chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found. 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 Liverpool spokesman said: “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.”
Balotelli tried to defend his actions by writing on his Twitter account: “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please.”
A spokesman for the FA confirmed it’s looking into the matter, and if charged for breaching the FA’s social media guidelines, Balotelli could face a five-game ban, the minimum punishment on race-related breaches.
Balotelli returned to Twitter on Tuesday morning to issue an apology to anybody who took offence at his comments.
He wrote: “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.”