Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli’s “sincere and honest” mitigation over his posting of an anti-Semitic and racist image persuaded an independent disciplinary hearing to punish him with only a one-match ban.
Written reasons into the decision revealed the Football Association would have recommended a two to three-match suspension had it not been for the Italian’s “forceful” submission.
Balotelli’s legal team also produced evidence of comparative cases and suggested any ban would not be proportionate but that was not taken into account by the panel.
The commission was “not influenced by the submissions regarding comparative cases but believed that the other parts of Mr Balotelli’s submissions were sincere and entirely honest”.
In his submission Balotelli said he was shocked to find the image was offensive because, out of sheer naivety, he had not understood the implication of the comments which appeared on the image.
The written reasons noted: “In his letter, Mr Balotelli also said that he had suffered from racism on a great number of occasions. He added that he is of Ghanaian heritage and that his maternal grandmother was Jewish and had escaped Nazi Germany.
“Mr Ives (from the FA judicial services department) informed us that, whilst we did have flexibility for leniency, under the guidance for this type of offence there would be an expectation of a sporting sanction and the minimum sporting sanction therefore for consideration was a one-match ban.”
Balotelli was charged by the FA after posting a picture of Super Mario on his Instagram page which contained racist and anti-Semitic language as it contained the phrases “jump like a black man and grab coins like a Jew”.