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Monday 20 January 2020

FA investigates 'anti-Semitic' tweet by Pope following City's Cup dismissal of Port Vale

Tom Pope scores Port Vale’s only goal in their 4-1 FA Cup third round defeat to Manchester City. Photo: Getty Images
Tom Pope scores Port Vale’s only goal in their 4-1 FA Cup third round defeat to Manchester City. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

The English Football Association is looking into an alleged anti-Semitic tweet by outspoken Port Vale striker Tom Pope, as a colourful weekend for the player took a more sinister turn.

Pope became a social media sensation after scoring in Vale's 4-1 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, eight months after a scathing critique of the Premier League champions' England defender John Stones on Twitter.

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The 34-year-old said he felt like the "Grim Reaper" in the City dressing room after the game and revealed he was blanked by Stones, whom he had described as being "weak as p***" last June after an error-strewn display in England's 3-1 Nations League defeat by Holland.

Having claimed he would score 40 goals a season if he played against Stones every week because the City centre-half had "absolutely zero aggression", Pope playfully revised that assessment after scoring against the FA Cup holders by joking on Twitter that he was "completely wrong and bang out of order to say I'd score 40 a season… it's more like 50".

But Pope's social media antics took a different turn when he responded to a light-hearted question from a follower who asked him to "please predict the #WWIII result you king" with a tweet that drew condemnation and prompted the FA to confirm they were looking into the matter.

"We invade Iran then Cuba then North Korea then the Rothschilds are crowned champions of every bank on the planet (three smiley-face emojis) the end (three thumbs up emojis)," Pope tweeted.

It is understood the FA will contact Pope and Port Vale for their observations early this week before deciding whether to open a formal investigation.

It brought an unsavoury end to what should have been a memorable weekend for Pope, who had joked on Twitter that the highlight of his day "wasn't the goal, it was Benjamin Mendy standing outside our dressing room waiting for a selfie with me to put in their group chat", and added that "Mendy has bants".

But Pope admitted Stones had failed to see the funny side after being mercilessly mocked by his City team-mates for weeks over the Vale player's past remarks.

Grim

"I got Oleksandr Zinchenko's shirt but I think everybody else palmed me off. Nobody was speaking to me," Pope said. "It was like the Grim Reaper going in - they all ran the other way!

"John wouldn't speak to me, it was a little bit awkward. He wasn't happy. We went in the dressing room after and I spoke to Benjamin Mendy and he said the lads have abused him (Stones) for weeks, so I think it's played on his mind a little bit! They got him that wound up, and then obviously I've scored and he's probably devastated.

"But it was only banter. People have dug it (my comments) up, and I didn't mean any offence by it.

"It was just my opinion of something. I never tagged anybody in, it's just because we drew Man City and everyone's jumped on it and made it global.

"I wish it hadn't but, no, I haven't proved anybody wrong (with my goal). At the end of the day, I fancy my chances if the crosses are in the box. I don't feel that there's anybody better at getting on the end of them."

Pope had darted in front of Stones' centre-half partner, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, to head home David Amoo's cross and briefly draw the League Two club level.

But he admitted playing against Stones had forced him to reconsider his opinion of the defender. "Well, you can't get near him," he said. "I had one cross and scored one goal, but that was it.

"He's just so good on the ball, he makes it look easy and it's difficult to press them when you've got 10 men behind the ball.

"He's a world-class centre-half. I was just saying he wasn't very physical and that's it. If people think I'm wrong, I don't care."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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