Mario Balotelli posted and then quickly deleted an Instagram post featuring Nintendo character Mario after he was accused of promoting racism.

Mario Balotelli Reproached

The picture of Mario had the heading, “Don’t be a racist.” The text of the Instagram post read, “Be like Mario, he’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican. He jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”

Not long after Balotelli uploaded the post, there was outcry about the soccer player expressing anti-Semitism. Initially, Balotelli stuck to his guns, leaving the post up, denying the racist intent and letting his followers know that his mother happens to be Jewish.

After the post blew up further, Balotelli, who plays for the English Premiere League’s Liverpool, removed it and offered an apology. “The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour,” he wrote. “I now understand that out of context it may have the opposite effect.…  I used a cartoon done by somebody else because it has Super Mario and I thought it was funny and not offensive. Again, I’m sorry.”

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has asked the Football Association to look into the matter. “Kick It Out has been made aware of Mario Balotelli’s Instagram post by a Twitter user and has now forwarded it on to the FA to look into the matte,” the group told the BBC.

In response to the reaction, the Football Association has asked Balotelli for a response to the allegations of racism and anti-Semitism by the end of the week.

Liverpool said the club would be speaking to Balotelli about the incident.

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