There is something about social media that manages to bring out the stupid in a person. You would think that a public platform would be a strong enough deterrent for idiocy, yet mediums like Twitter and Facebook have had an opposite effect than desired. The worst gets highlighted and the best is lost in a quicksand of name-calling, political incorrectness and downright racism.

So which camp does Mario Balotelli’s latest misdemeanour fall under? The Liverpool striker recently posted (and then deleted) a questionable image of popular video game character and namesake, Mario, on his Instagram account. It wasn’t the image that was questionable, but the two lines of text added to an already famous texted-image of the beloved video game character that have landed the Italian in hot soup.

The English FA, never one to miss an opportunity to discipline a player (read: get good press), have already launched an investigation into the incident. Funny how it only takes them minutes to swing into action for a minor transgression on social media when much larger issues such as blatant cheating and thuggish, violent behaviour are left untouched. It’s almost as if they choose to focus on issues that can be solved easily.

Coming back to Balotelli’s post, is it simply a case of a joke gone too far, or are there racist connotations to the image? Judge for yourself:

funny-comic-mario

Sure, the wording of the text isn’t the greatest, but it would be stupid to label this as an example of racist behaviour. At best, it’s a joke that shouldn’t have been put on social media. At worst, it is an incredibly good attempt at political incorrectness.

If Balotelli does get charged with using racist and anti-Semitic language, it would be a tragic irony. The Italian has been subjected to racist abuse all his life as a footballer, with little or no consequences for the guilty party. And with this image, the only thing Balotelli is guilty of is perpetuating stereotypes – not racism.

The Italian defended his choice of words, claiming it to be an ironic anti-racism message. Balotelli even took to Twitter to defend himself against the abuse he received following the incident.

 

And then came the apology.

Past Incidents

There are precedents for such incidents, most notably Rio Ferdinand’s three game suspension for using a sexual slur.Ai??Ferdinand has also in the past been in hot water with the FA for appearing to make derogatory remarks about Ashley Cole.

Most recently, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan was charged by the FA for a similar use of language. WhelanAi??claimed in an interview that “Jews do chase money”, and that “chink” is not an offensive description of a Chinese person.

FA Rule E3 states: ai???Participants are deemed responsible for any postings on their account. The fact that a posting may have been made by a third party will not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken. ai???In addition, re-tweeting another personai??i??s posting may lead to disciplinary action if the original comment was improper. ai???Finally, deleting an inappropriate posting, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken.ai???

The anti-racism bodies have also wasted no time in jumping on the bandwagon, calling for the Italian’s head if he is found guilty of breaching the FA’s social media guidelines. Kick It Out and theAi??Jewish Leadership Council have already expressed their dismay at Balotelli’s poor choice of words.

Balotelli’s Future Prospects at Liverpool

If charged, Balotelli faces a minimum ban of five games, along with a monetary fine. Liverpool’s rotten luck with strikers and their transgressions continues.

This incident does leave open the Italian’s future prospects at the club. Balotelli has endured a poor start to life at Liverpool, appearing unsettled, uninterested and below-par in his performances on the field. And now come the off-field incidents. Definitely not what manager Brendan Rodgers would have wanted after splurgingAi??A?16 million on the Italian.

The loose cannon has loaded and fired in the wrong direction, again. And it cannot be a bolt from the blue for the manager. Balotelli has had several disciplinary issues in the past, and despite the best efforts of all his managers, the Italian has at times painted a bulls-eye on his back with his penchant for looking for trouble.

In an ideal world, Mario Balotelli would not have suffered the racist abuse he has and his message would have drawn a few chuckles from fans of satire and sarcasm. But this is not an ideal world, and one shouldn’t be surprised if the FA decides to make an example out of him, as they have done in the past.

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