Police are investigating racist abuse targeted at Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli on Twitter after he mocked Manchester United's shock defeat to Leicester City.
In a statement Merseyside Police said: "We can confirm officers are looking into offensive comments made on Twitter about Mario Balotelli earlier today."
Asked if they were launching an investigation, a Merseyside Police spokesman said "yes, we are", adding: "As far as I am aware there have been no complaints but we have been made aware of it by a number of press inquiries."
Man utd ... LOL— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) September 21, 2014
Balotelli, part of the Reds side that lost 3-1 at West Ham yesterday, tweeted "Man Utd...LOL" in response to United's 5-3 loss at the King Power Stadium.
His tweet was met by a string of racist messages, including one from an account called @CraigSainsbury which read: "Fuck you Mario you fucking nigger. Got eat some bananas and get ebola you dirty monkey."
The account from which the tweet was sent subsequently appeared to have been closed.
Balotelli has been singled out for racist abuse in the past. He was heckled by Italy supporters during a pre-World Cup training camp in May and was on the receiving end of numerous instances of racist abuse during his time at Internazionale and, more recently, AC Milan.
Balotelli spoke about the abuse directed at him in an interview with GQ magazine in July. "They aren't used to seeing people who are different, not white, who act not as rebels but normally," he said.
"I think what the ignorant people don't like is that people who are different are allowed to act that way. These stupid people, they get angry with me, they say horrible things, but I haven't done anything different from other people.
"I have made mistakes, like everyone does, and I have always paid for my mistakes. I think that if I was white maybe some people would still find me irritating or annoying but it wouldn't be the same. Absolutely not.
"Jealousy is a horrible thing, but when this jealousy is towards people who are different from the majority, and who maybe also have more than you, then it becomes anger, it becomes rage, and that's the overt racism."