Forgive me: Balotelli says sorry
Published 21:30 09/04/12 By David Anderson
Mario Balotelli has apologised for his latest red-card shame after being ordered to by his national manager.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was furious after seeing Balotelli’s fourth dismissal in two seasons with Manchester City against Arsenal and threatened to axe him from his Euro 2012 squad.
The City striker (right) was sent off for a second bookable offence for catching Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna on his knee and could face a nine-match ban for his horror show which included three other late lunges.
But last night, the controversial striker said: “I’m very sorry for what happened and for the disappointment caused to Manchester City, and especially to manager Roberto Mancini, who I admire and wish well.
“I am very attached to the national team, but yesterday I committed two fouls in the course of action, not by reaction.”
Balotelli rang Prandelli to protest his innocence but the Azzurri coach has installed a new code of ethics and told Balotelli he must say sorry publicly.
Prandelli has already shown he is prepared to take a tough line with Balotelli and he dropped him for Italy’s friendly with the USA in February because of his four-match ban for stamping on Tottenham’s Scott Parker.
Balotelli added: “I didn’t break the code of ethics. I already missed out on the national team for foolishness and I wouldn’t do it a second time.
“I hope to be there at the training camp in April. Let’s wait for the final verdict of the ban.”
And after talking to him, Prandellii said: “I’ll evaluate from the videos of the sending off whether or not to apply the code of ethics for Balotelli.”
While Prandelli considers Balotelli’s international future, he could be thrown a lifeline at City if the FA decide that referee Martin Atkinson dealt with his knee-high, studs-up challenge on Alex Song.
Balotelli could receive suspensions of one match for his second yellow on Sunday, two more for it being his third red of the season, three more if he receives a retrospective red for the challenge on Song, and a further three for that taking him to four reds for the season.
But the FA may feel there is no scope to punish Balotelli retrospectively because Atkinson dealt with the incident at the time - by waving play-on.
Balotelli’s let-off will open the door for him to return for City in time for the derby against Manchester United on April 30.
Roberto Mancini appeared to write off Balotelli’s season - and career - on Sunday because he feared the former Inter Milan star would be banned for the rest of the campaign.
However Balotelli’s reprieve means he will be available for City’s last three games as they attempt to finish the season on a high.
Mancini has always been Balotelli’s strongest defender and it is understood he will consider the £24million hitman for selection once he has served his three-match suspension for his red card against Arsenal.