LONDON – West Brom forward Jay Rodriguez said he would fight to clear his name after being charged by the Football Association on Thursday over an incident involving Brighton’s Gaetan Bong during which he was accused of using racist language.
The FA said Rodriguez has been charged with using “abusive and/or insulting words, which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race”.
“Absolutely gutted and in disbelief at the situation I find myself in,” Rodriguez posted on his Twitter feed.
“I 100 percent deny the false allegation and will take the correct legal advice to prove my innocence.”
Footage from the Premier League match on January 13 shows the pair arguing and bumping into each other, before Rodriguez holds his nose and waves his hand as if to gesture Bong smells.
It is not clear what was said, but Bong immediately complained to match official Martin Atkinson, and the referee included the complaint in his report.
Rodriguez, 28, who won one England cap in 2013, has until February 16 to respond to the FA charge. He could face a lengthy ban if found guilty.
Cameroon defender Bong posted a since-deleted comment on his official Twitter feed after the game, saying: “Some words should not be said on a football field and specially not by players. Rodriguez words are unforgivable for the man I am!!”
Absolutely gutted and in disbelief at the situation I find myself in. I 100% deny the false allegation and will take the correct legal advice to prove my innocence.
Bong appeared on French television channel SFR Sport to say Rodriguez’s comment was “racist in nature”, and Brighton said their player had the club’s full backing as the FA opened their investigation.
West Brom manager Alan Pardew said after the match he found it “very difficult” to believe that Rodriguez would make a racist comment, adding: “Jay Rodriguez claims that the allegation, whatever the allegation is, is untrue.”
West Brom said on Thursday they remained fully supportive of Rodriguez following the FA charge.
“As a club, we remain fully supportive and committed to backing Jay throughout this process,” Richard Garlick, the club’s director of football administration, said in a statement on the club’s website.
Then-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned in 2011 for eight matches and fined by the FA after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.