Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has released a statement after the FA cleared him of racially abusing Everton defender Mason Holgate during the Merseyside derby in January.
The two players had to be separated by officials during the heated exchange, with the two exchanging words after Holgate had nudged the Brazilian into the crowd.
The FA subsequently opened an investigation after an allegation of discriminatory conduct, but it was announced on Wednesday that no action would be taken.
Firmino kept quiet while the probe was ongoing, but after being cleared of any wrongdoing, the player released a statement.
It read: “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.”
Everton released a statement of their own following the FA’s announcement, stating Holgate made his complaint in “absolute good faith”.
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