Right in the middle of a bad-tempered Merseyside Derby (when are they not?), Everton defender Mason Holgate did something incredibly silly that provoked a verbal outburst from Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino.
In the 42nd minute with the Blues down 1-0 from an unnecessarily soft penalty conceded by Holgate, the young centerhalf was chasing a ball with Firmino to the right touchline. Holgate shoved Firmino once in the field of play, and then again right in the back in touch, sending the forward tumbling over the hoardings into the supporters.
Referee Bobby Madley immediately came over and tried to separate the pair jawing at each other, but Firmino’s verbal tirade seemed to infuriate Holgate even further as a mass brawl was looking like erupting on the pitch just before the half.
what did bobby firmino say to holgate? pic.twitter.com/igvrFCRvCd— justin lew block (@JBlock49) January 5, 2018
The words uttered were not clear, and only the players in the melee and the referee can claim to have heard what was said. Twitter’s Portuguese-speaking lip readers immediately insisted that one of the things Firmino said “esta loco seu filha da puta”, which generously translated from Portuguese means “are you crazy you son of a prostitute”.
Referee Madley chose to keep his cards in his pocket on this one strangely enough, as Holgate certainly deserved a booking for his shove. Abuse on the pitch is nothing new, so I guess we can let him reserve his judgement on why he didn’t punish Firmino.
However, there’s more.
“He’s just fucking called me a nigger”— Lee (@Lee__EFC) January 5, 2018
Holgate says to Schneiderlin pic.twitter.com/tNP0eldJxR
Part of why Holgate was so incensed when Firmino was mouthing off was because he’d heard the Brazilian launch a racist tirade, as he can be seen trying to explain to Madley and then to Morgan Schneiderlin who is trying to protect the youngster from himself before he does something even more stupid.
So what happens now?
Madley had gone across to speak to fourth official Jon Moss who made some notes after the conversation, and the entire incident and his hearing of it will be in the official match report to the Football Association who will then deem what happens next.
Both managers wisely went into ‘speak to my lawyer I’m not saying a thing’ mode in their post-match comments.
Sam Allardyce when asked about what had happened during the altercation.
“I’m telling you nothing until whatever systems are used to find out what exactly happened and what didn’t happen.
“I’m here to talk about football, not controversial incidents. I want to talk about football because football is my life and anything else that happens outside of that has to be dealt with by the authorities.
“Even if I had (spoken to Holgate) or hadn’t I wouldn’t tell anybody today in this conference because that, for me, is in the other areas of the football club.
“I’ve left the director of football today to sort that out.”
Jurgen Klopp on his observation of the incident.
“I heard about something but I can’t say anything so far. I haven’t spoken to anybody. From now on, the club will answer. I don’t really know anything about it.
“I misjudged that situation completely. I thought it was about Holgate’s foul. At the end there was no foul, no yellow card, nothing. I didn’t get it.
“I didn’t understand the whole situation but I got information after the game that something obviously happened.
“The fourth official said something to me. I never heard the words so I thought they were going to investigate the Holgate foul. That’s how I understood it.
“Then after the game... the fourth official informed me but it wasn’t that I really got it (what was happening).”
While it is understandable that derbies can get heated and rage-filled, Holgate’s actions were unnecessary as was Firmino’s reaction, especially if they were racist-tinged.