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Balotelli charged

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Per The Guardian:

Balotelli has until 6pm on Wednesday to respond. Should the 21-year-old accept the FA charge he will automatically serve a four-match suspension, having already been dismissed once this season, for two bookable offences in the Premier League draw at Liverpool in November. That would rule him out of Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Anfield, where City must overcome a 1-0 first leg deficit to reach Wembley, and league games against Everton, Fulham and Aston Villa.

It was highly likely that Balotelli was set to face an FA charge regardless, but once the firestorm circled around him post-game then there was a real sense of inevitably that he would face retrospective action.

The merits of the FA's disciplinary procedures aside (this is a debate in itself) it is extremely difficult to argue against the decision. Whilst there are certainly angles from the TV replays that are less conclusive (and may assist in any appeal) the main replay that has been used does look damning; the motion of Balotelli's right leg not akin to a natural movement in such a situation but more a motion of kicking out at Scott Parker.

In such situations though intent cannot be proven given that only the player accused can answer as to what their true actions were, which effectively leaves Balotelli (and any other player in such a situation) having to attest to their innocence as opposed to the charge against them having to be proven. Having been charged it is difficult to see Balotelli being found anything but guilty, which will see him face a minimum four-game ban (five if any appeal is deemed to be frivolous) and potentially leaves Roberto Mancini with just two forwards - Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko - available during this time.

Should Balotelli admit the charge then the ban would begin immediately, ruling him out of the Carling Cup tie at Liverpool but then only missing three, as opposed to four, Premier League games: perhaps now we will see where the priorities lie. A decision may rest on the intended participation of Balotelli in the Liverpool game; if he was to start from the bench then Mancini may decide not to challenge the FA's decision in order to reduce the impact on the league campaign, but this would be a huge risk to take (to not have a striker on the bench) with City attempting to overturn a one-goal deficit at Anfield in order to progress to the Carling Cup final.