Liverpool football (soccer) player Mario Balotelli is the latest sports player under fire for anti-Semitism on social media, after he posted - then deleted - a photo on Instagram of nintendo character ‘Super Mario’ with the caption "jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew."
Balotelli may now face a five-game ban and a Football Association (FA) investigation over the image, the British Telegraph reports Tuesday.
"We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found," former FA executive and Jewish Leadership Council CEO Simon Johnson said Monday. "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."
“We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player,” a Liverpool spokesman said on Monday evening. “We will be speaking to the player about the issue.”
Balotelli played down the event, noting on Twitter that his mother is Jewish and that he had meant the post as a joke.
It is just the latest in a series of anti-Semitism and racism-related controversies to face a British soccer club in recent months.
Last month, Wigan F.C. manager David Whelan was forced to apologize for making offensive comments against Jews and Asians.
One month earlier, Liverpool defender Jose Enrique faced a firestorm after he tweeted a picture of himself with a "Hitler mustache," and in September, Liverpool FC pulled a Rosh Hashanah tweet after it received numerous anti-Semitic responses.