Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino says he "did not - and would never" direct racial slurs at opponents after the Football Association (FA) saw fit to take no punishment over a confrontation between the Brazilian and Mason Holgate.
The Reds beat city rivals Everton 2-1 in an FA Cup third-round clash in January, though the match was interrupted by a furious row between Firmino and Holgate after the Toffees defender shoved his opponent into the Anfield crowd.
Both players squared up to each other and exchanged words, with Holgate making an immediate complaint to referee Bobby Madley.
The FA confirmed Holgate lodged a complaint of "discriminatory conduct", but said in a statement: "Having considered all of the available evidence, we consider it is not sufficient to raise a charge against Firmino."
In a subsequent statement, Firmino said: "Now the process is concluded, I would like to place on record, for the avoidance of any doubt, I did not say the word, or a variation of the word, that was claimed and subsequently reported in the media.
"I did not use any language that referenced race. I did not - and would never - reference a person's skin colour or culture, by means of insult, during a dispute or an argument."
The FA said of Holgate: "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."
Everton welcomed that stance, and also praised the FA for their thorough approach to a sensitive situation.
They said in a statement: "The club welcomes the FA's commitment to continue to treat all allegations of a discriminatory nature with extreme seriousness. In challenging circumstances, the FA has reached its determination and, as a club, we accept this. We will continue to offer the full support of the club to Mason."
Liverpool added in a statement: "We thank Roberto for the manner in which he has conducted himself during this difficult process, acknowledging that being subjected to such a serious allegation for this length of time has been hurtful to him and his family.
"We are satisfied that the outcome of the process has exonerated the player of using any racist or discriminatory language."
22 de junio 2018
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