Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli has been charged by the Football Association for an Instagram post which appeared to contain anti-Semitic and racist references.
The Liverpool striker reposted 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.”
Mario Balotelli, 24, tweeted to deny the post was offensive, before apologizing.
He has until 18:00 GMT on December 15 to respond to the charge.
A Liverpool spokesman said: “We acknowledge the FA’s decision and the player will work through the process to answer the charge.
“While that process is on-going the club will make no further comment.”
An FA statement read: “It is alleged the Liverpool player breached FA Rule E3 in that his posting was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper.
“It is further alleged that this is an <<Aggravated Breach>> as defined by FA Rule E3 as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.”
Mario Balotelli had until 18:00 on December 5 to submit an explanation for his comments to the FA and he reportedly provided evidence of the discrimination he has faced during his career.
The picture posted by the player had an image of Super Mario with the heading: “Don’t be a racist!”
The text read: “Be like Mario, he’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican.”
“He jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
After receiving criticism on Twitter for the image, Mario Balotelli tweeted: “My mom [sic] is Jewish so all of you shut up please.”
The player also described reposting the image as “my unlucky moment”.
Mario Balotelli later wrote: “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.
“Not all Mexicans have a moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money.
“I used a cartoon done by somebody else because it has Super Mario and I thought it was funny and not offensive. Again, I’m sorry.”
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AC Milan football fans have clashed with Italian police as they celebrated a proposed transfer of Mario Balotelli to their club from Manchester City.
The police used tear gas as the fans let off flares and threw bottles outside a restaurant in Milan where the Italy striker was having a dinner.
One policeman was taken to hospital with head injuries, reports say.
Mario Balotelli is in Milan for a medical before a proposed transfer for an initial fee of 22 million euros.
Mario Balotelli, 22, said earlier he had no hesitation about deciding to move from England to the seven-time European champions.
“I’d wanted to play for Milan for such a long time,” he said.
“Obviously I played for other teams and couldn’t come. But when there was the chance, I ran.”
AC Milan football fans have clashed with Italian police as they celebrated a proposed transfer of Mario Balotelli to their club from Manchester City
Manchester City signed Mario Balotelli from Inter Milan – AC Milan’s arch-rivals – for 27.5 million euros in 2010 and he scored 30 goals in 80 appearances for the club.
He helped City to the Premier League title last season, but has managed only three strikes in 20 matches this time round.
Milan reached an agreement with City on Tuesday, and Mario Balotelli is expected to sign a four-and-a-half-year contract, subject to passing his medical.
Mario Balotelli’s departure follows a training ground altercation with City manager Roberto Mancini on January 3 – the latest in a series of controversies during his time at the club.
Mario Balotelli is said to be “delighted” after becoming a father for the first time after his ex-girlfriend Raffaella Fico gave birth to a baby girl.
Little Pia had been due on Christmas Day but was born just under three weeks early after Raffaella Fico was rushed to hospital after having contractions while at home with her mum.
Mario Balotelli himself was not present at the birth but Raffaella Fico’s brother Francesco and her mum Pia were and the baby weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs, 4 oz (3.8 kg) and was registered in her mother’s name.
There was no official comment from Mario Balotelli following the “nappy” news although sources close to the Manchester City star said he was “delighted” with the birth which took place at the private Clinica Mediterranea in Naples.
Ex underwear model Raffaella Fico and Mario Balotelli had split up in April following a furious doorstep bust up after she flew to Manchester from Italy to confront him over his cheating.
Two months later Raffaella Fico called Mario Balotelli to say she was expecting his child and initially he refused to accept the baby was his and demanded a DNA test to prove he was the father.
The couple then played out a furious slanging match via the Italian media over the summer with a shocked Raffaella Fico expressing anger and surprise that he should question whether he was the father.
Mario Balotelli is said to be delighted after becoming a father for the first time after his ex-girlfriend Raffaella Fico gave birth to a baby girl
Two months ago Mario Balotelli then revealed he was going to “try again” with Raffaella Fico and he flew to her home near Naples where the two were pictured kissing passionately on the balcony of her home.
However, since then Mario Balotelli has not been in touch with Raffaella Fico and only this week she had issued an ultimatum to the player saying: “If you love our child and me then marry me.”
On Thursday a source at the clinic said: “Pia was born on Wednesday night and both mother and baby are doing well.”
Raffaella Fico, who has dated Cristiano Ronaldo in the past and also appeared in Italy’s version of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, is said to have sold exclusive first pictures of Pia to glossy Italian weekly Chi – the magazine that published photographs of a topless Kate Middleton this summer.
Raffaella Fico, Mario Balotelli’s ex-girlfriend, took to the catwalk to show off her baby bump at Milan Fashion Week on Saturday afternoon.
Raffaella Fico, 24, sashayed up and down the runway in a series of bikinis that showed off her growing bump.
Modelling for Pin Up Stars, Raffaella Fico did what she does best as she got back to her day job as a professional model.
With her long dark brown hair given extra volume she combed it back and swept it to one side as she wanted the sole focus to be on her bump.
Instead of covering up in a full swimming costume she opted to wear a few bikinis to highlight her swollen tummy.
Raffaella Fico, Mario Balotelli’s ex-girlfriend, took to the catwalk to show off her baby bump at Milan Fashion Week on Saturday afternoon
The model walked down the catwalk in a strapless yellow top with matching bottom, and added a bright green lace belt around her hips.
Raffaella Fico also wore a pair of gold strappy heels which she teamed with matching chunky bracelets and necklace.
She also slipped into a white bikini that featured a cartoon picture of a monkey on each cup.
Czech model Petra Němcová also took to the catwalk and looked more natural as she displayed a toned torso but also sported big hair.
Petra Němcová, 33, may be the more popular model internationally but Raffaella Fico was given special recognition by the designer at the end of the show.
Mario Balotelli and Raffaella Fico split in April after a tempestuous year-long relationship ended with a doorstep row, and then at the start of the month, she revealed she was almost four months pregnant and the baby was his.
Initially it was reported that Mario Balotelli was “delighted” with the news but then the footballer issued a statement in which he said he would “accept his full responsibilities once a paternity test” had been taken to establish if he really was the father.
Raffaella Fico’s then wrote a passionate letter, which was published in glossy Italian weekly Chi, in which she spoke in loving terms of Mario Balotelli and made it clear that she still has feelings for him – even though he has insisted there is no chance of a reconciliation.
She wrote: “This child I desire with all my heart and I want it because it is not a child that arrived by chance but instead it is the fruit of love between two people and you know well what I am talking about.
“This letter was the only way I could speak to you. I am happy to take the DNA test but I still have the text messages you sent me from Krakow (during Euro 2012) in which you said you were happy with the news I had given you.”
Italian striker Mario Balotelli was sporting three tramlines of blue sticky tape on his back in the Euro 2012 Championship.
And at Wimbledon, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has had his elbow patched up with the same stuff.
So what’s behind this latest sporting fad?
The Japanese makers of Kinesio tape say it gives players an edge by mending injuries.
Although it might seem like a new idea, the tape has been around since the 1970s.
The brainchild behind the tape, Dr. Kenzo Kase, says he came up with the design because he found standard taping techniques, like conventional strapping, too restrictive for his patients.
Although standard strapping provides muscle and joint support, it limits movement and, according to Dr. Kenzo Kase, gets in the way of the healing process by restricting the flow of inflammatory fluids below the skin.
The Japanese makers of Kinesio tape say it gives players an edge by mending injuries
Kinesio tape is different, he says, because it lifts the skin to assist this lymphatic flow, which, in turn, reduces pain and swelling.
However, Dr. Kenzo Kase admits there have been too few studies to prove these scientific claims.
Dr. Kenzo Kase says people have been using his tape with success for more than 30 years. But he recognizes that only solid scientific evidence can silence critics.
“We have many people researching but the society of Kinesio taping therapy itself – the International Kinesio Taping Association – is only five years old. We need more evidence. We do not have research reports. Part of the reason people are using Kinesio tape is to find the science.”
Another element to consider is the power of persuasion or “placebo effect” – if you believe something will work then you will see results.
John Brewer, a sports professor at the University of Bedfordshire, said: “Personally, I think it is more of a placebo effect. There is no firm scientific data to show that it has an impact on performance or prevents injuries.
“My concern is that there is little that you can put on the skin that will have a real benefit for the muscles that lie deep beneath.
“The power and stress going through the joints is immense.
“But, saying that, I can’t see it would cause any real problem, other than making you lose a few hairs.”
In theory, anything that can lessen the oscillations or vibrations that go through the muscle when you are doing intense sport will be beneficial, he said.
Phil Newton, a physiotherapist at Lilleshall, one of the UK’s National Sports Centres, said: “It’s a multimillion-pound business, yet there’s no evidence for it. There’s a whole host of companies making this tape now.
“A lot of medical practitioners do use it.
“It is different to the various types of tape that physios have been using for donkey’s years to strap sprained ankles and so on.
“This is a relatively new type of tape that is thin and light weight. The idea behind it is fascial unloading – reducing pressure in the tissue below the skin.”
Dr. Phil Newton remains dubious. “Looking at the tensile strength of the tape I don’t see how it could do it unless it is down to stimulating the senses. The power of placebo is very strong and shouldn’t be underestimated.”
He predicts the Olympics will be awash with the stuff. “It’ll be a show of multicoloured tape.”
“We’ll probably see athletes in the Olympics sporting a few union jacks made out of it,” he said.
Dr. Kenzo Kase certainly hopes so.
He said: “Olympians are very top athletes. Top athletes are very different from regular athletes. They are hypersensitive and they worry. My tape will give lots of comfort to them. This is not drugs.”