(JTA) — British soccer player Mario Balotelli, the foster son of a Jewish mother, is facing a five-game ban over what his league deemed a “racist and anti-Semitic” message on social media.
The British Football Association on Friday charged Balotelli, 24, who plays for the Liverpool team, with breaching a league rule that bars “abusive and/or insulting and/or improper” social media posts.
His Instagram post featured a photo of Nintendo computer game character Super Mario and read, in part, that the character “jumps like a Black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”
Football Association rules do not allow postings that include “a reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.”
Balotelli, who is nicknamed Super Mario, apologized Dec. 2 on Twitter for the post. He is the son of immigrants from Ghana.
Jewish leaders in Britain criticized the Super Mario post as anti-Semitic and racist.
Following criticism of the post, Balotelli responded with a tweet that said, “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please.”
Balotelli has until Dec. 15 to respond to the league’s charges.
The rest of the Super Mario post reads: “Don’t be racist. Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican.”
Balotelli’s apology tweet said in part, “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.”