The Football Association is investigating Mario Balotelli's post on social media which has provoked angry claims of racism and anti-semitism.
The Liverpool striker reposted a doctored image from the computer game 'Super Mario' on his Instagram page which included the comment "jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew".
The image of Super Mario - with whom Balotelli shares a nickname - appeared with the heading "Don't be a racist". The text then read: "Be like Mario. He's an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican" before the final line which has caused the controversy.
An FA spokesman told the Guardian that it can take action if they believe the striker "bought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race."
And it is now understood that an investigation is under way and that the FA has contacted Balotelli for his observations. Under the FA's social media guidelines, the minimum ban for race-related breaches of rules is five games
Balotelli, who has had a less than auspicious time at Liverpool so far, quickly deleted the post but it soon spread on the internet.
Having been a frequent victim of racism himself, he responded on his Twitter account by writing: "My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please".
The striker then described reposting the image as "my Unlucky moment". He then posted an apology on Tuesday morning.
"I apologize if I've offended anyone," his apology read. "The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context may have the opposite effect.
"Not all Mexicans have moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money.
"I used a cartoon done by someone else because it has Super Mario and I thought it was funny and not offensive. Again, I'm sorry."
However, former FA executive and current chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council Simon Johnson said Balotelli should face action.
"We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found," Johnson told the Daily Telegraph.
"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.
- Source: Eurosports