The British Football Association (FA), which runs English soccer, has fined Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli $39,000 and suspended him for one game because he posted an Instagram page of Super Mario headlined “Don’t be a racist” and partially captioned “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
Balotelli will have to take education classes because the association said he had violated Football Association rule E3, which deals with standards for racial sensitivity.
The FA statement read:
Following an independent regulatory commission hearing today Mario Balotelli has been fined £25,000, suspended for one-match with immediate effect, subject to any appeal, and warned as to his future conduct after he admitted breaching FA rules in relation to social media. The charge was that an image the Liverpool player posted on social media was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA rule E3(1). Furthermore, the posting was considered to be an “aggravated breach” as defined in FA rule E3(2) in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief. Mr. Balotelli has also been ordered to attend an education program.
Liverpool had not decided how to discipline Balotelli, as they said they would wait for the FA verdict. After FA issued the verdic, the team asserted, “The club acknowledges the decision reached by the independent panel and due consideration will be given to the written judgement once we receive it from the FA. Any further action taken by ourselves in relation to this matter is between the club and player.”
Balotelli deleted the post almost immediately after it went online, and apologized in a tweet the next day, “I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humor. I now understand that out of context (it) may have the opposite effect.” He also tweeted, “My Mom is Jewish so all of you shut up please.”
The deletion did not matter; the FA rules write, “deleting an inappropriate posting, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken.”
Balotelli has been the victim of racism himself; in September, while Leicester City defeated Manchester United 5-3, he tweeted, “Man Utd…LOL.” His tweet triggered numerous racist responses. He was targeted by racists during a pre-World Cup game against Roma in 2013.