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Mario Balotelli fined and suspended for Instagram post

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been fined £25,000, suspended for a match and ordered to attend an "education programme" by the FA as punishment for an Instagram post that provoked claims of racism and anti-semitism.

Mario Balotelli retweeted the offensive image on his Instagram account before removing it after criticism. Credit: Mario Balotelli/Instagram

Balotelli admitted breaching FA rules after apologising for re-posting an 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 Football Association confirmed the punishment, announcing:

Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today, Mario Balotelli has been fined £25,000, suspended for one-match with immediate effect, subject to any appeal, and warned as to his future conduct after he admitted breaching FA Rules in relation to social media.

The charge was that an image the Liverpool player posted on social media was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3(1).

Furthermore, the posting was considered to be an “Aggravated Breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2) in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief.

Mr Balotelli has also been ordered to attend an education programme.

– Football Association

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Fifa President Blatter 'surprised' at Garcia resignation

Credit: Reuters

The President of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, has said that he is "surprised" at the decision of chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia to resign after his his appeal against the findings which cleared Qatar and Russia to host the 2022 and 2018 World Cups was rejected.

In an official statement, Mr Blatter said:

I am surprised by Mr Garcia’s decision. The work of the Ethics Committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the ExCo meeting in the next two days.

– Sepp Blatter

Fifa said it will appoint an acting chairman to serve as a replacement for Mr Garcia on the Ethics Committee, pending an election to replace him.

Michael Garcia resigns in protest over Fifa ethics report

US lawyer Michael Garcia, ex-Fifa chief ethics investigator. Credit: Reuters

US lawyer Michael Garcia has resigned his position as Fifa's chief ethics investigator in protest.

In his resignation letter, Mr Garcia said he disagreed with governing body of football's decision to reject his appeal against the findings which cleared Qatar and Russia to host the 2022 and 2018 World Cups.

He also mentions a "lack of leadership" within Fifa, saying he cannot change the culture of the world governing body.

It now appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Eckert Decision will stand as the final word on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process. While the Appeal Committee's decision notes that further appeal may be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I have concluded that such a course of action would not be practicable in this case.

No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization. And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert Decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.

Accordingly, effective today, December 17, 2014, I am resigning as independent Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.

– Michael Garcia

Boxer Crolla injured after confronting burglars

Champion boxer Anthony Crolla is recovering in hospital after confronting burglars at his home in Manchester.

Sports promoter Eddie Hearn tweeted that the WBO inter-continental lightweight title holder - known as 'Million Dollar' - had suffered head and ankle injuries in the incident.

Anthony Crolla is in hospital with head and ankle injuries Credit: PA

Hearn went on to reveal that Crolla's scheduled WBA world lightweight title fight against Richar Abril next month had now been cancelled.

Crolla's trainer, Joe Gallagher, said he is believed to have suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle when one of the burglars hit him with a concrete slab when he disturbed them as they raided his neighbour's house.

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USA confirms bid for 2024 Olympic Games

The United States has announced it will be bidding to host the 2024 Olympic Games - with LA, San Francisco, Boston and Washington all shortlisted for the site.

If successful, it would be the first time the US has played host to the Summer Games since 1996.

The country's Olympic Committee will make a final decision on its host city next month.

Liverpool agree £3m fee for Guillermo Ochoa - reports

Liverpool have agreed to sign Mexican international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for £3m in January, according to reports.

The Malaga stopper put in a string of impressive displays at the 2014 World Cup, particularly against hosts Brazil when he managed to keep all of their attacking players at bay.

Liverpool's number one Simon Mignolet was dropped for Sunday's match against Man United after his performances received widespread criticism leading up to the fixture.

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