PA Sport

Rodriguez ‘disappointed’ with Bong over public condemnation

Rodriguez ‘disappointed’ with Bong over public condemnation
By PA Sport

16/04/2018 at 17:57Updated 16/04/2018 at 20:10

The West Brom striker was cleared of a charge of alleged racial abuse toward the Brighton player.

West Brom forward Jay Rodriguez criticised Gaetan Bong for choosing “to publicly condemn” him after a charge he racially abused the Brighton defender was found to be not proven by the Football Association.

The 28-year-old was accused of making an alleged remark to Cameroon international Bong during the Baggies’ 2-0 victory over the Seagulls on January 13.

The FA announced on Friday that an Independent Regulatory Commission “determined that on the balance of probabilities the allegation was not proven” against Rodriguez.

In an impassioned statement on his official Twitter account, Rodriguez repeated his claim of innocence and expressed his disappointment at Bong.

He wrote: “It has been a difficult and strained period for me and my family because this allegation brought a serious and damaging slur on my character.

“It has been equally difficult to remain silent throughout the FA process, but I do wish to express firstly my relief that I have been exonerated and second my support for the fight against racism in whatever form it is expressed.

“I have maintained my innocence from the moment Gaetan Bong made the allegation. I bear him no ill will, but I was disappointed that he chose to publicly condemn me on the platforms of open media before the evidence had been presented to an independent tribunal.

“Now that I have been cleared, I would like to emphasise so there can be no doubt that I did not utter the words of which I was accused. I did not use any language that alluded to race and I can only repeat my view that Gaetan misheard our exchange during the game.

“I am grateful for all the colleagues and former managers and coaches who spoke up for me at the hearing. I would also like to thank West Bromwich Albion, my team-mates, the staff and the fans for the fantastic support they have offered me during this unpleasant process.

“Finally, I would like to underline my support for the continuing battle of any forms of discrimination. There is no place for it in any walk of life and I am relieved and pleased that after an exhaustive, thorough and fair process, I am cleared of this stain on my character and reputation.”

Rodriguez drew a line under the incident on Sunday, capping a fine display with the goal that secured rock-bottom West Brom a shock 1-0 win at Manchester United – and Manchester City the Premier League title.

He added on BBC WM: “It’s amazing.

“You always dream as a young lad to come here and score and to get the winner against a great side at a great stadium was really good.

“At the end we were knackered. We worked our socks off and created a lot of chances and we definitely deserved the win.

“I have never not believed. We need to believe still – especially coming here and showing that – we can go and beat anyone. We need to keep that between us and keep working.”