Balotelli's controversial tweet.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Italian-born Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli apologized on Tuesday after uploading, and quickly deleting, a social media post, which contained potentially racist and anti-Semitic references.
The original post published on Monday features an image of the well-known Nintendo character Super Mario, which referenced Balotelli’s on-pitch nickname, along with the words “Be like Mario, he's an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican.”
The soccer star said the Internet meme was initially created to spread a message of anti-racism, but garnered more attention especially for two extra lines at the bottom of the post: “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
On Tuesday, Balotelli took to Twitter to apologize, writing “I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context may have the opposite effect.”
Liverpool said they will speak to the 24-year-old, who signed from AC Milan in August.
“We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player,” a Liverpool spokesman told the BBC. “We will be speaking to the player about the issue.”
Former Football Association (FA) executive Simon Johnson, who is the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said Balotelli should be punished.
“We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found,” he told The Daily Telegraph
“We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football.”