Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been handed a one-match ban and fined £25,000 by the English FA as punishment for his racist and anti-Semitic Instagram post.
Balotelli last week accepted a charge of an aggravated breach of Football Association rule E3 for a post he made on social media network Instagram.
The Italian, 24, reposted an image of Nintendo game character Super Mario on his Instagram page, with the texts: “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
He later tweeted to deny the post was offensive, before apologising and deleting the post.
FA guidelines clarified that “deleting an inappropriate posting, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken”.
He wrote in mitigation to the FA and did not request a personal hearing. Liverpool had hoped his explanation would see him end up with only a fine.
The FA said in a statement: “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.”
The FA has also ordered Balotelli to attend an education course.
Liverpool said they were awaiting the full written verdict from the panel but did not rule out further action against the player by the club.
A Liverpool spokesman said: “Any further action taken by ourselves in relation to this matter is between the club and player.”
Balotelli will now miss Liverpool’s match at home to Arsenal on Sunday, subject to any appeal.
The ex-Inter Milan and Manchester City striker has scored twice in 15 appearances in all competitions since his £16m move from AC Milan in the summer and has yet to score a league goal.