MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Mario Balotelli of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal from a penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli faces a four-match ban after the FA adjudged his stamp on Scott Parker during City's 3-2 win against Spurs to be deliberate.
The day after he won and scored the penalty that sent Manchester City to a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur, the FA have more or less admitted that Mario Balotelli should not have been on the field at all. The Italian striker, who'd already picked up a yellow card for an innocuous looking challenge on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, appeared to kick out at Spurs midfielder Scott Parker after losing his balance, and although Howard Webb didn't see it at the time there was a strong suspicion that Balotelli deliberately raked his studs across Parker's skull.
If intent can be proven (which is always a challenge in this sort of situation - Balotelli was clearly off-balance and wasn't looking at Parker, neither of which would preclude a deliberate kick), it's a clear case of violent conduct, and the FA are apparently satisfied that there's enough of a case to charge him. If Balotelli doesn't fight the charge, he'll miss four games, but there's always the possibility of an appeal.
Here's the incident in question, in case you missed it:
There was another incident in the match that saw Manchester City centre back Joleon Lescott appear to elbow Younes Kaboul in the face on purpose, but Webb decided that no offence was committed. That's good news for City - losing another defender (Vincent Kompany is suspended) with Kolo Toure away at the Africa Cup of Nations would be much more serious than losing a striker, no matter how talented, for four matches.