Balotelli remorse saved him from longer ban

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The Football Association (FA) has revealed that Mario Balotelli's remorse over posting a controversial image spared him a longer ban.

The Liverpool striker was deemed to have committed an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 [2] after posting a picture on Instagram and Twitter containing potentially offensive language referring to "ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief".

Balotelli was handed a one-match suspension, fined £25,000 and ordered to attend an education programme.

The Italian received criticism for the picture that contained video game character Super Mario and a series of racial stereotypes.

The image was later taken down and Balotelli issued an apology for his actions, stating that the post was intended to be "anti-racist" and in good humour.

On Tuesday, the FA published a statement outlining the written reasons behind the striker's sanction, citing his naivety and his apology as mitigating factors.

"Mr Balotelli had accepted the charge but had submitted requests for leniency as part of his plea in mitigation," the statement read.

"Mr Balotelli added that he deeply regretted posting the image and that he had removed it as soon as it was brought to his attention by other users that the image could cause offence.

"He said that he was shocked to find the image was offensive because, out of sheer naivety, he had not understood the implication of the comments which appeared on the image.

"The Regulatory Commission had the following evidence before them: A memo to Mr Ives [of the FA Judicial Services Department] from Amina Graham of the FA's Governance and Regulation Division, in which she said that, ordinarily, a sporting sanction of 2-3 matches would be appropriate for this type of offence but that the FA accepted the forceful mitigation presented by Mr Balotelli and that this could enable us to exercise our discretion more favourably."