The Football Association has confirmed it will launch an investigation after allegations by the Everton defender Mason Holgate that he was racially abused by Roberto Firmino during Liverpool’s FA Cup win at Anfield.
“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.
Holgate clashed with the Liverpool forward after pushing him over the advertising hoardings in the first half of the home side’s 2-1 victory. Firmino reacted furiously and ran towards the Everton defender, who erupted after something was said by the Brazil international. Holgate had to be restrained by several team-mates and appeared to complain to the referee, Robert Madley, that a racist term had been used. The match official reported the allegation to the fourth official, Jon Moss, and spoke to the 21-year-old again after the game.
A Liverpool spokesperson said: “The club and the player will fully co-operate with the relevant authorities to ensure the facts are established in a thorough manner if deemed necessary or requested. While that process is ongoing we will not be making any further comment.”
Firmino was not asked to give a statement after the match. Sam Allardyce refused to comment on the incident but Everton’s director of football, Steve Walsh, was involved in discussions with the club’s media department after the Cup tie.
“I’m telling you nothing until whatever systems are used to find out exactly what happened or didn’t happen,” the Everton manager said. “I am here to talk about football not controversial incidents, because football is my life and anything outside the game has to be dealt with by the authorities. Even if I had or I hadn’t [spoken to Holgate] I wouldn’t tell anyone in this press conference. That is for others to deal with. I have left that with the director of football and told him to sort that one out.”
Jürgen Klopp admitted: “I heard about something but I can’t say anything so far. 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 at first. Then after the game the fourth official informed me but it wasn’t that I really got what it was about.”