London (United Kingdom) (AFP) – No action will be taken against Jay Rodriguez after the Football Association announced Friday that an allegation of racism against the West Bromwich Albion striker was “not proven”.
The 28-year-old had been accused of using “abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race” towards Brighton and Hove Albion’s Gaetan Bong during the Baggies’ 2-0 win in January.
Rodriguez denied what he described as a “false allegation” and requested a personal hearing, which took place at the Wembley headquarters of the FA, English football’s governing body on Wednesday.
An FA statement issued Friday said: “A charge of discriminatory misconduct against West Bromwich Albion’s Jay Rodriguez has been found not proven following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing.”
It added: “Having considered all the evidence, the Independent Regulatory Commission determined that on the balance of probabilities the allegation was not proven.”
“Not proven” is best known as a verdict available in Scottish courts in addition to “guilty” and “not guilty”. No such verdict exists in the English legal system.
‘Not proven’ is generally delivered when a Scottish jury feels it has insufficient evidence to reach an alternative verdict.
There is, however, no legal difference between the effects of a “not guilty” and “not proven” verdict, which both acquit the defendant.
The FA stressed there had been “no suggestion by any party involved in this case that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint”, and said it was “completely satisfied that this was a complaint made in absolute good faith”.
Reports in the British media had Rodriguez claiming he commented solely that Bong had bad breath. He faced a five-game ban if found guilty.
West Brom, bottom of the Premier League, responded to Friday’s announcement by saying how “delighted” they were for Rodriguez.
“Albion have welcomed the verdict of an FA hearing which has dismissed an allegation of racist abuse by striker Jay Rodriguez,” said a club statement.
Baggies’ director of football administration Richard Garlick, who attended Wednesday’s hearing, added: “Everyone at the club is delighted for Jay because this has been a trying period for him.
“He has always maintained his innocence and we are naturally pleased the Commission has dismissed the charge.”