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Balotelli banned over controversial image

The Italian was deemed to have committed an aggravated breach of Football Association 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 has also been given a £25,000 fine and ordered to attend an education programme.

Former Milan striker Balotelli 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.

The 23-year-old has been struggling with a groin problem, but the punishment means he will definitely miss Sunday's Premier League fixture at home to Arsenal.

Balotelli has been warned as to his future conduct.