Mario Balotelli faces a 4 match ban after he was charged with violent conduct by the FA following footage of him apparently kicking Spurs midfielder Scott Parker as he lay prone on the pitch towards the end of Sunday’s Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium.
Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, had already condemned the incident as ‘blatant’ and called on the FA to take action.
The controversial Italian striker, on as a 65th minute substitute, had already been booked for a foul on Benoit Assou-Ekotto when he seemed to lose his balance after tackling Parker and footage from some angles seemed to show him stamping on the Spurs midfielder.
Joleon Lescott, in contrast, will not be punished for an incident in the same game against Younes Kaboul where he appeared to elbow the Spurs defender in the face.
Balotelli has until 6pm GMT on Wednesday to respond to the charge and if he chooses not to appeal he will be hit with an automatic 3 match ban extended to 4 due to an earlier sending off against Liverpool.
Ironically, City’s next match is the crucial Carling Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg against Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday. City are 1-0 down from the first leg and will already be missing captain Vincent Kompany as he serves the final match of his own 4 match ban as well as the Toure brothers who are on African Cup of Nations duty.
If Balotelli were to appeal he would be available for the Liverpool game but he risks being hit with an extended ban if the FA deems that his appeal was frivolous.
City would be reduced to 2 senior strikers if Balotelli were to be suspended, with Sergio Aguero and the out of form Edin Dzeko potentially having to carry City through fixtures against Liverpool, Everton, Fulham, and Aston Villa.
Future fixtures against Blackburn, Bolton, or even the Carling Cup final could be at risk if any Balotelli appeal is thrown out for being frivolous.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini had already identified the January and February period as being crucial to the title hopes of the club but with key players unavailable and City’s hierarchy keen to balance the books to satisfy FIFA’s Financial Fair Play rules he will have to dig deep into the City squad and hope that they can stay top of the league by the time Yaya and Kolo Toure return from Africa.