Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has been accused of racially abusing Everton defender Mason Holgate during the Merseyside derby on Friday evening.
The FA Cup tie at Anfield was settled by Virgil van Dijk on the Dutchman’s debut with a header at the Kop end but the gloss has been taken off the win by the allegation that Roberto Firmino racially abused Mason Holgate.
The alleged incident took place in the first half after Firmino was pushed over the advertising hoardings by Mason Holgate. The Brazilian reacted angrily and rushed to confront the young Evertonian but was stopped by referee Bobby Maddeley. Firmino was seen on television shouting at Holgate and has since been accused of calling him a n****r.
A few issues with Holgates accusations have to be brought to light in defence of Firmino and the first is that the Everton defender didn’t immediately react to the confrontation from the Liverpool forward. As would be expected in a scenario where a racial slur was uttered, an instant response is expected.
The reason that Holgate doesn’t react immediately is that Firmino, as a non-English speaker, was shouting in Portuguese and therefore was incomprehensible to Holgate.
As the Daily Mirror have found in their use of a lip reader named Tim Reedy, Firmino, in fact, shouted: “‘Es maluco, filho da puta?’, which translates to ‘Are you crazy, you son of a b***h?’”
Tim Reedy told the Mirror: “Firmino, in retaliation to the push, confronts Holgate, shouting some words at him, to which Holgate does not react.”
Reedy continued: “Holgate does not compute because Firmino is speaking in Portuguese. My findings are that Firmino did not use racist language.
“Instead, he says the words, ‘Es maluco, filho da puta?’, which translates as ‘Are you crazy, you son of a b***h?’. Then Holgate, upon speaking to the referee, thinks that racist language was used and tells the referee, ‘He called me a n****r.’
“It also appears the referee has no idea what Firmino said. When pushed away by a team-mate, Holgate reiterates that he was called a n*****.”
Holgate’s accusations are being investigated by the FA and the outcome is of huge importance to Liverpool who cannot afford to lose another Brazilian forward after Philippe Coutinho departed for Spain to join Barcelona.
Liverpool and Everton have both agreed to co-operate with the FA during the process of the investigation but have refused to comment on the incident until a verdict is reached.
Firmino would undoubtedly face an enormous ban and fine if he was found guilty of racially abusing Mason Holgate but what if the latter fabricated the whole thing? Falsely accusing a person of racial abuse is a serious abuse and shouldn’t be considered lightly.
Hopefully, this whole storm blows over without too much fuss and Liverpool can go back to being 17 points above the Ev.