Roberto Firmino has spoken out for the first time after the FA cleared him of making a discriminatory comment towards Mason Holgate.
After an exhaustive six-week investigation, the FA ruled that there was insufficient evidence to charge Firmino with an offence.
However, they were also keen to stress that they were satisfied Holgate made the claim in good faith.
Shortly after the FA announced their ruling, Firmino released a statement via the official Liverpool website:
“As difficult as it has been to remain publicly silent, given the serious and damaging nature of what it was claimed I said during the game, I did so to demonstrate my respect for the process and to allow the issue to be investigated in the most thorough way.
”It is critical for football that tackling racism and all forms of discrimination is taken extremely seriously. As someone who has experienced racist abuse during my life, I know how damaging and hurtful it can be.
”Now the process is concluded, I would like to place on record, for the avoidance of any doubt, I did not say the word, or a variation of the word, that was claimed and subsequently reported in the media. I did not use any language that referenced race. I did not - and would never - reference a person’s skin colour or culture, by means of insult, during a dispute or an argument.
”There is no place for discrimination on a football pitch, or anywhere else in life for that matter.
”I am pleased after exhaustive reviews of all the evidence, in this specific incident, the matter is resolved.”
Though Holgate has remained silent on the issue (and even deleted his Twitter account), Everton did release a statement:
“The Club welcomes the FA’s expression of complete satisfaction that the allegation made by our player, Mason Holgate was done so in absolute good faith, that proper process was followed and that there is no suggestion of malice or dishonesty on Mason’s part.
The Club also welcomes the FA’s commitment to continue to treat all allegations of a discriminatory nature with extreme seriousness. In challenging circumstances, the FA has reached its determination and, as a Club, we accept this. We will continue to offer the full support of the Club to Mason and will make no further comment.”