Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli will not appeal against his one-match ban imposed for posting racist and anti-semitic comments on social media.
The Italy international was given the suspension, a £25,000 fine and will have to attend an education course following the decision of an independent disciplinary panel.
The panel issued the punishment yesterday after the 24-year-old admitted to an aggravated breach of Football Association Rule E3, relating to references of ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality or religion or belief, after his posting of an image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram which included the words “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew”.
It means he will miss Sunday’s visit of Arsenal, although there were doubts over his fitness anyway as he did not travel to Bournemouth for the Reds’ 3-1 Capital One Cup victory on Wednesday because he was having treatment on a groin injury.
Having submitted detailed mitigation, Balotelli apologised again after the verdict.
“Following the recent events related to my Super Mario post, the FA decision has made clear that it was wrong,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am sorry that my team-mates and supporters of Liverpool FC have to be penalised for something I did and now come to regret. It is my intention to comply with the decision of the FA and make sure it never happens again.”
He could, however, face further internal sanctions as the club said they had not ruled out action against him.
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“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,” said a spokesman for the club.
“Any further action taken by ourselves in relation to this matter is between the club and player.”
The day after his posting – which he quickly deleted – Balotelli apologised, 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.”
In a statement the FA said: “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 colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.
“Mr Balotelli has also been ordered to attend an education programme.”
Meanwhile, Leicester boss Nigel Pearson has welcomed the chance to have a personal hearing with the FA. The Foxes manager will have a hearing today after he was alleged to have “used abusive and/or insulting words towards a spectator”. He got into a heated row with a fan during Leicester’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool this month. Pearson refused to say sorry and is looking forward to his hearing before Leicester’s Barclays Premier League trip to West Ham.
“I’m interested in going down there and having a chance to see exactly what goes on,” he said, with Leicester bottom of the league having not won in 11 games. He added when asked about not apologising: “I don’t intend to make any more statements on that issue at all, I’ll go and be present and see what happens.”
Terry Robinson was sacked as director of football at the King Power Stadium on Monday and replaced by Jon Rudkin. Pearson admitted he was sad to see him go, adding: “It’s a decision which has been made from above.”
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