Balotelli escapes lengthly ban

PA Sport
Mario Balotelli

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Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli could yet have a final say in Manchester City's season after avoiding an extended ban for his wild challenge on Arsenal's Alex Song.

The controversial striker, who is about to begin a three-match suspension for his sending-off in Sunday's defeat at the Emirates Stadium, could have been hit with a further six-game punishment for his separate studs-up challenge on Song.

That clash went unpunished by referee Martin Atkinson at the time but the Football Association have said they cannot take retrospective action because it was seen by at least one of the four match officials.

A statement read: "Retrospective action can only be taken in scenarios where none of the match officials saw the players coming together. The normal scenarios in which retrospective action is taken are for 'off-the-ball' incidents.

"Retrospective action was introduced for off-the-ball incidents where there was no contest for possession and could not be deemed to be re-refereeing an incident."

That means Balotelli will be eligible to play again in City's final three Barclays Premier League games of the season, starting with the derby against Manchester United on April 30.

But the 21-year-old's future at the Etihad Stadium remains uncertain after manager Roberto Mancini appeared to lose patience with him at the weekend.

Mancini said after the costly 1-0 loss, which left his side's Barclays Premier League title challenge in tatters, that he would "probably" try to sell the enigmatic Balotelli in the summer.

His dismissal at the Emirates for two bookable offences and the Song controversy were merely the latest in a long line of misdemeanours on and off the field in the two years since his arrival from Inter Milan.

Indeed, the fortnight was remarkable even by Balotelli's own standards - he turned up at an Inter press conference, had a training spat with Mancini, was involved in a car crash and at the centre of tabloid revelations. On the field he argued with team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov over who should take a free-kick against Sunderland.

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