The Football Association has confirmed it will launch an investigation after allegations by Everton defender Mason Holgate that he was racially abused by Roberto Firmino during Liverpool’s FA Cup win at Anfield on Friday.
“The FA can confirm that referee Bobby Madley was made aware of an allegation during the Liverpool versus Everton game at Anfield last night and has subsequently reported this to the FA, which will now begin making enquiries into the matter,” read an FA statement (h/t Guardian).
The incident happened after James Milner’s goal when Holgate shoved Roberto Firmino into the advertising boards. A clearly unhappy Firmino vaulted back on to the field and sprinted towards Holgate, swearing in Portuguese, before referee Bobby Madley stepped in between them to intervene.
Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore, now a columnist, wants Firmino to be handed a 10-game ban if he is found guilty of using racist language towards Holgate.
“Everyone knows my stance on racism — that any player or manager found guilty of it should have the book thrown at them,” he wrote for the Mirror.
“We will now have to wait for referee Robert Madley’s report into the incident between Firmino and Holgate before we can draw any conclusions on it.
“Firmino is, of course, innocent until proven guilty. If he is found guilty then a 10-game ban, a serious talking-to and compulsory attendance on a racism education course has to be meted out.
“And, if not, then, of course, there is no case to answer.
“Whatever the outcome, though, I hope this finally moves the governing bodies to get their acts together on these issues and make things clear once and for all.”
Asked whether Holgate accused Firmino of using a racist term, Everton manager Sam Allardyce said:
“I’m telling you nothing until whatever systems are used to find out what exactly happened and what didn’t happen. Whatever happens (outside football), has to be dealt with the authorities.”
Allardyce didn’t want to discuss if he had spoken to Holgate about the incident.
“I’ve left it with the director of football (Steve Walsh) today. I said to sort that out.”
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp admitted he thought Madley and the fourth official were discussing whether to take action against Holgate for the original push on Firmino.
Klopp then said: “I had information that something happened … but I can’t say anything about it.”
What Holgate did was entirely wrong but if Firmino is proven guilty, it would be a real shame and he would deserve to be penalised as there is no place for racism in this beautiful game.