Following a detailed investigation into an allegation of discriminatory conduct against Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino by Everton’s Mason Holgate, The FA can confirm that it will not be taking any disciplinary action against Firmino.
Having considered all of the available evidence, we consider it is not sufficient to raise a charge against Firmino.
However, we are completely satisfied that the allegation was made in absolute good faith by Holgate and that there is no suggestion of this being an intentionally false or malicious allegation.
We continue to take all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and would encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels. Holgate and Everton followed the proper process by reporting the matter to the match officials at the time and subsequently to The FA.
We receive a significant number of complaints of discrimination in any one season and thoroughly investigate all complaints we receive. Following consideration of all of the evidence received, not all cases will result in a charge being issued.
The evidence for the allegation came from Holgate. During a fixture between Liverpool and Everton on 5 January 2018, Holgate alleged that he had heard Firmino use a discriminatory term towards him.
On hearing this, Holgate followed correct procedures by immediately alerting the match referee of the allegation, along with other Everton players who were in close proximity. The incident was formally reported to the match officials following the fixture and subsequently reported to The FA.
We took statements from a total of 12 players and officials from both teams, the match referee and the fourth official. None of these individuals directly heard the words alleged to have been said by Firmino.
Firmino was formally interviewed by The FA and provided an alternative account to the words alleged by Holgate. Firmino stated that he had insulted Holgate in Portuguese, but denied categorically using any discriminatory language towards him.
As part of the investigation, The FA sought the assistance of a Brazilian/Portuguese linguistic specialist on the words alleged. In addition to this, we also obtained multiple angles of video footage, including broadcast and unseen footage showing the incident, which was assessed by two independent Portuguese speaking lip reading experts.
We appreciate that this has been a difficult process for both parties, and would like to express our thanks to Mason Holgate and Roberto Firmino as well as both clubs for their assistance, professionalism and full cooperation during this investigation.