Jay Rodriguez has been charged by the Football Association with racially abusing Brighton’s Gaëtan Bong. The West Brom forward, who strongly denies wrongdoing, faces a minimum five-game ban if found guilty.
The charge relates to an alleged incident during West Brom’s game against Brighton on 13 January. The FA said: “It is alleged he used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”
West Brom remain firmly supportive of Rodriguez and are surprised by the charge, which the player has until 16 February to respond to.
West Brom said on Thursday that they will continue to support Rodriguez. The director of football administration Richard Garlick said on the club’s website: “As a club we remain fully supportive and committed to backing Jay throughout this process.”
“Obviously we are going to contest it,” added Rodriguez’s agent, Gary Mellor. “It’s a serous charge to be made without corroborating evidence. I’m stunned. He’s upset that someone can make such serious allegations against his character.”
The Cameroonian defender Bong posted a since-deleted comment on his Twitter feed after the game, saying: “Some words should not be said on a football field and specially not by players Rodriguez words are unforgivable for the man I am!!”
Bong appeared on French television channel SFR Sport to say Rodriguez’s comment was “racist in nature”, and Brighton said their player had the club’s full backing as the FA opened its investigation.
The West Brom manager Alan Pardew said after the match he found it “very difficult” to believe that Rodriguez would make a racist comment, adding: “Jay Rodriguez claims that the allegation, whatever the allegation is, is untrue.”