Roberto Firmino kept his tongue during the FA’s investigations but now that he has been exonerated, the Brazilian has had his say on the matter.
Regardless of whether the accusation was made in good faith or not, there is no denying that there has been some damage to Roberto Firmino’s reputation as there will always be some people who will believe he did racially abuse Mason Holgate.
The Football Association took 47 days to exonerate Firmino and in that time, he was unable to publicly insist he was innocent and the lack transparency means that, to an extent, the Brazilian will have suffered a damage to his reputation.
It might help that he is in red-hot goalscoring form at the moment so many people may have forgotten but the last month and a half cannot have been easy for him.
In a statement on the club’s official website, Firmino said: “As difficult as it has been to remain publicly silent, given the serious and damaging nature of what it was claimed I said during the game, I did so to demonstrate my respect for the process and to allow the issue to be investigated in the most thorough way.
“It is critical for football that tackling racism and all forms of discrimination is taken extremely seriously. As someone who has experienced racist abuse during my life, I know how damaging and hurtful it can be.
“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.”
Firmino continued: “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.
“There is no place for discrimination on a football pitch, or anywhere else in life for that matter.
“I am pleased after exhaustive reviews of all the evidence, in this specific incident, the matter is resolved.”
I am impressed by the way that Firmino has handled the situation and the fact that he has allowed his football to do his talking over the last 6 weeks tells you a lot about him as a man and a professional footballer.