On this day in 2014, Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was suspended and fined after making racist and anti-Semitic comments on social media.
The then 24-year-old was was banned for one match, fined £25,000 and ordered to attend an education course following an independent regulatory commission hearing after accepting an aggravated breach of the Football Association Rule E3, relating to references of ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality or religion or belief.
Italy international Balotelli was charged after posting 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”.
He quickly deleted the post and the following day issued an apology via his Twitter account.
Balotelli wrote: “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.”
Following the commission’s ruling, Balotelli offered a further apology to his team-mates and the club’s fans.
He posted on Twitter: “Following the recent events related to my ‘Super Mario’ post, the FA decision has made clear that it was wrong.
“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.”
Former Inter Milan, Manchester City and AC Milan frontman Balotelli, now 33 and playing his football in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, has been no stranger to controversy during his career.
Days after signing for City, he hit the headlines after crashing his Audi R8 en route to the club’s training ground and was found to be carrying £5,000 in cash, and he had another run-in with the emergency services after a firework was set off in the bathroom of his home, triggering a fire.