Tuesday 20 February 2018

Police investigate 'racist' claims after Firmino-Holgate clash

Tempers flare between Everton's Mason Holgate (left) and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during their FA Cup third round clash at Anfield. Photo: PA
Tempers flare between Everton's Mason Holgate (left) and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during their FA Cup third round clash at Anfield. Photo: PA

Jamie Holland

Merseyside Police are investigating racist comments posted on social media after the incident between Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Everton defender Mason Holgate in Friday night's FA Cup tie.

The pair were involved in a heated exchange when Firmino reacted to being pushed into the stands by Holgate, and the Everton defender - whose Twitter account has since been deleted - is understood to have reported alleged racist comments to referee Bobby Madley.

"We can confirm we are aware of racist comments posted by a number of individuals on Twitter on January 5, 2018, and will be investigating this," Merseyside Police said on Twitter last night.

Deputy chief constable Carl Foulkes added: "We are working with Liverpool FC and Everton FC and hate crime will not be tolerated."

The FA launched its own enquiry on Saturday after Madley included the incident and subsequent allegation, made by Holgate on the pitch and Everton officials afterwards, in his match report.

"The FA can confirm that referee Bobby Madley was made aware of an allegation during the Liverpool versus Everton game at Anfield and has subsequently reported this to the FA, which will now begin making enquiries into the matter," a statement from the FA read.

Immediately after the match, Liverpool pledged to fully co-operate in any investigation.

According to sources on Merseyside, Firmino was not questioned about the incident after the game but is prepared to provide a statement if the FA ask for one.

Everton manager Sam Allardyce and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp refused to comment on the incident after the match.

Allardyce was asked in his post-match press conference whether the incident was sparked by an alleged racist comment and said: "I'm telling you nothing until whatever systems are used to find out exactly what happened and what didn't happen.

"I'm here to talk about football, not about controversial incidents. I only want to talk about football.

"Anything else outside of that that happens has to be dealt with by the authorities."

Asked whether he has spoken to Holgate, Allardyce added: "I wouldn't tell anybody in this press conference because it is not about that for me."

Independent News Service

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