Warning: Some people may find the language in this article offensive.
A charge that West Brom forward Jay Rodriguez racially abused Brighton defender Gaetan Bong has been found “not proven” by the Football Association.
Cameroon international Bong said the incident took place during the Baggies’ 2-0 win at The Hawthorns on 13 January.
Rodriguez, who has one England cap, appeared to pinch his nose after they clashed and Bong spoke to the referee.
In his evidence to the FA, Bong said he was “100% certain” Rodriguez said to him: “You’re black, you stink.”
Rodriguez, who had a personal hearing with the governing body on Wednesday, denied saying this, insisting it had been: “Breath fucking stinks.”
The FA employed two lip-reading experts to watch slow-motion footage of the incident.
In the reasons explaining its verdict, the FA said the “essential issue for us boiled down to one question – are we satisfied the player [Rodriguez] probably said to GB [Gaetan Bong]: “You’re black, you stink’?
It said the two lip-reading experts “could not help” on this “core issue”.
“The player’s mouth was obscured, and neither could see sufficient to interpret his moving lips,” the FA said.
“After much deliberation we were left in the position where the case distilled to the evidence of each player. We could not say that any of the other evidence or competing arguments lead us to prefer one over the other.”
The FA said it was “completely satisfied” Bong’s complaint was “made in absolute good faith” and “there has been no suggestion that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint”.
It said it “takes all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and continues to encourage all participants who believe they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels”.
West Brom director of football administration Richard Garlick, who attended the hearing, said: “Everyone at the club is delighted for Jay because this has been a trying period for him.”
More to follow.