West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez has been charged by the Football Association over an incident involving Gaetan Bong in last month’s Premier League match against Brighton that saw him accused of using racist language.
Footage shows the pair arguing and bumping into each other, before Rodriguez holds his nose and waves his hand as if to gesture Bong smells. It is not clear what was said, but Bong immediately complained to match official Martin Atkinson and the referee included the complaint in his report.
The FA said on Thursday Rodriguez has been charged with using “abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race”.
Rodriguez, 28, who won one England cap in 2013, has until February 16 to respond to the FA charge.
Cameroonian defender Bong posted a since-deleted comment on his official 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.
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.”
West Brom said on Thursday that they will continue to support Rodriguez.
Director of football administration Richard Garlick said on the West Brom website: “As a club we remain fully supportive and committed to backing Jay throughout this process.”