No FA action in Holgate-Firmino spat

Wednesday, 21 February, 2018 60comments  |  Jump to most recent

The Football Association have announced that Roberto Firmino won't be censured following accusations of racism levelled at him by Mason Holgate in last month's cup derby.

Holgate complained that the Liverpool striker had directed a racial epithet at him as the pair squared up to each other in the FA Cup Third Round tie at Anfield which sparked an FA investigation into the incident.

A statement on the FA's website said: "Following a detailed investigation into an allegation of discriminatory conduct against Liverpool's Roberto Firmino by Everton's Mason Holgate, The FA can confirm that it will not be taking any disciplinary action against Firmino."

No action will be taken but Everton made public their appreciation for the fact that the incident was looked at by the game's governing body:

Everton Football Club acknowledges and appreciates the thoroughness of the FA's investigation into the incident that took place during our FA Cup third round game on 5 January.

The Club welcomes the FA's expression of complete satisfaction that the allegation made by our player, Mason Holgate, was done so in absolute good faith, that proper process was followed and that there is no suggestion of malice or dishonesty on Mason's part.

Article continues below video content

The Club also 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 and will make no further comment.


Reader Comments (60)

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Joe O'Brien
1 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:08:56
It's a shame Jonjoe's head got in the way because I still think he did call him the N-word, just going on Holgate's reaction... either that or Mason is some actor.

For the to FA to take 6 weeks to come to this conclusion, they must have thought that RedShite player had a case to be answered... Or maybe I'm just biased.

Phil Smith
2 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:24:58
Sounds like he might've misheard him.
John Hughes
3 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:28:22
Why am I not surprised that no action will be taken?
Andy Meighan
4 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:39:10
Just a thought.... But I wonder if it had been the other way round?
Peter Roberts
5 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:44:30
For me, the key witness statement here was what Bobby Madley heard as he was right between the two of them when the incident occurred.

It is interesting that it's taken 6 weeks for this to be closed off, so maybe the FA did look at this properly...

Peter Warren
6 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:53:24
He called him a son of a bitch in Portuguese. Holgate got the wrong end of the stick. As much as I dislike Firmino, I can't just jump to a conclusion and call him a racist simply because our player said so and he plays for the Red Shite.

In this instance, I believe entirely the results of the enquiry.

Eric Paul
7 Posted 21/02/2018 at 20:56:27
If nothing untoward was said, the ref could have cleared it up in 6 minutes... so why has it taken 6 weeks? The FA looking after “one of its own”?
Liam Reilly
8 Posted 21/02/2018 at 21:07:07
If only the rules allowed the FA to throw the book at Firmino just because he's such a dislikeable, horrible twat!
Peter Anthony
9 Posted 21/02/2018 at 21:08:33
Either Mason, or the ref, have dodgy hearing; or the ref shit himself and wimped out because he knew it would be a big deal. I think the latter. Shithouse.
Dermot Byrne
10 Posted 21/02/2018 at 21:08:52
Anyone know what happened... before we have 289 posts!
Ernie Baywood
11 Posted 21/02/2018 at 21:13:21
Peter, I'm fine with the outcome. But I'm sick of people telling me what he said that caused the reaction. You don't know what he said! Almost no-one does.

Yes, he did say that. He said lots of things between the moment he woke up and the point at which Jonjoe walked across shot. Mason didn't react to any of them.

What was said that caused Mason's reaction is completely unknown. Firmino knows. Mason may know or may have misheard. The ref had turned away.

If Mason is satisfied, then fine. Not sure why it took our club 6 weeks to make a statement.

Harry Catterall
13 Posted 21/02/2018 at 22:34:48
Holgate has made an error.

We have once again been made to look like amateurs.

Jay Wood

14 Posted 21/02/2018 at 22:53:44
Harry @ 13.

How, and why so?

Lawrence Green
15 Posted 21/02/2018 at 23:02:03
I don't think that it is Everton's fault that the investigation took so long so I don't understand why some would be annoyed by the statement being made by the club today.

I don't know what was said by either player, neither it would seem does anybody else apart from the two players involved. I've no doubt that Mason felt he heard something inappropriate but, when it's a "he said / he said" situation, it's difficult for the FA to come to any other decision in the absence of concrete evidence.

It would be best for all parties to move on from this incident and hopefully an awareness of what should or shouldn't be said will be heightened for all footballers.

Mason should now concentrate on getting his place back into the Everton first team and those fans of other clubs who want to see him charged with something should give their heads a wobble.

Joe O'Brien
16 Posted 21/02/2018 at 23:10:05
Exactly Jay... it wasn't proved... that doesn't mean it wasn't said..Jonjoe's head got in the way at that precise moment when you could see that RedShite player start to say something to Mason which made him explode. For the FA to take this long to make a decision – it looks like to me that they did believe it was said, but couldn't prove it.
Derek Knox
17 Posted 21/02/2018 at 23:34:16
As Harry @13 has said, Holgate should not have pushed Firmino into the side hoardings, which basically has escalated into this interpretation row: did he say it? in whatever language, has it been misconstrued?

I think the whole issue should be put to bed now, never to be re-awoken!

Peter Warren
18 Posted 21/02/2018 at 23:36:22
Ernie, my mate who speaks Portuguese and is Scottish texted me literally 30 seconds after the incident and told me Holgate must have misunderstood. My mate supports Raith Rovers and his kids support Everton and he doesn't support any English team, although his dad always liked Alex Ferguson so he saw a few Man Utd matches over years. As such unbiased.

As part of the investigation “we also obtained multiple angles of video footage, including broadcast and unseen footage showing the incident, which was assessed by two independent Portuguese speaking lip-reading experts. The evidence obtained from the experts did not support the allegation.”

Appears conclusive to me.

Brian Williams
19 Posted 21/02/2018 at 23:41:25
Ernie (#11).

It took our club 6 weeks to make an announcement because it took the FA six weeks to come to a conclusion. Nothing to make a statement about until the FA have made theirs.

Kase Chow
20 Posted 21/02/2018 at 23:47:24
Weird one really...

Andrew Presly
21 Posted 22/02/2018 at 01:40:47
Nothing about the Lallana dive, then? Okay...
Ernie Baywood
22 Posted 22/02/2018 at 01:44:36
Peter, speaking Portuguese and having no footballing bias doesn't mean you can see through someone's head. The point stands – there's only one fact available and you don't get to hold an opinion on it. You don't know what was said at the point that Mason reacted. It's a fact.

The FA, on the other hand, may have seen other footage that wasn't broadcast. Good for them. The fact it took 6 weeks to conclude raises my suspicions but I'm sure we're at the only realistic outcome.

Did Mason make it up? Don't know, couldn't see through Jonjoe's head. Did Firmino racially abuse him? Don't know, couldn't see through Jonjoe's head.

Bias doesn't really matter if you can deal in facts.

Brian, Mason's character was widely questioned after the allegation. In fact, there was a witch hunt against him, and talk of a playing ban. Personally, I thought it was pretty weak of the club to just go quiet while that was happening. If we accept, as the FA have, that the allegation was made in good faith, then the subsequent actions against Mason should concern people much more than the use of a word.

It tells us that, if you dare to report racial abuse, then you'll be attacked. We chose to stay quiet while that happened. I posted something similar at the time and still believe that a show of support was in order.

Ajay Gopal
23 Posted 22/02/2018 at 03:02:53
“The Club welcomes the FA's expression of complete satisfaction that the allegation made by our player, Mason Holgate, was done so in absolute good faith, that proper process was followed and that there is no suggestion of malice or dishonesty on Mason's part.”

Sounds like Everton & Holgate are the accused party! Amazing!

David Barks
24 Posted 22/02/2018 at 03:16:44
My God... everyone, just stop.

Holgate thought he heard him say something racist. Firmino denied it. The case was investigated for weeks. The conclusion was that nothing racist was said. Holgate could easily have misheard him, thought he heard a racist term when Firmino was screaming at him in a raucous Anfield.

It's done now.

David Ellis
25 Posted 22/02/2018 at 03:27:02
For once, I agree with David Barks.
Darren Hind
26 Posted 22/02/2018 at 04:53:00
We have to apply the law of the land. We cant strip a guy of his innocence unless he has been proven guilty.

For me David @24 puts up the most plausible explanation – That Mason has come up a little short in his grasp of the Portuguese language.

I watched this game a couple of times, taking a real interest in these two, even when the camera was not directly focusing on them; they were at it all game, nothing open and violent, but the niggle was there and unsurprisingly the RS player was getting the benefit of the doubt from the referee.

To be fair, I think it's us who have dodged the bullet; the shove over the wall was not one movement, it was a double shove. The first was the sort you see every week, but Mason clearly had an "ah fuck it" moment and sent him over the wall.

Our boy was reckless here and you only have to look at the hysterical reactions of the usually fair-minded Liverpool fans to see how dangerous and inflammatory it was.

Bang out of order! ... I could have kissed him!!!

Tony Abrahams
27 Posted 22/02/2018 at 07:53:23
Usually fair-minded Liverpool fans? That's one to remember that, Darren! My iPad kept making simple spelling mistakes when I was trying to repeat that sentence mate!
Ray Roche
28 Posted 22/02/2018 at 07:56:59
Remember the time when three Everton players, Howard, Yobo and Lescott, all heard the Newcastle player Emre use a racist remark against Howard?Three players, yet the FA cleared Emre, and later he was also cleared after two further incidents when he was claimed to have racially abuse a Bolton player and then a Watford player. So many players in the Premier League with defective hearing...

No such problem in Turkey when the obnoxious little racist twat got a 2.5-year suspended sentence for racially abusing another player. They must have access to better hearing aids in Turkey.

(The fact that he had compromising photos of FA chiefs with a variety of... er, 'hostesses'... is neither here nor there.)

Hari Singh
29 Posted 22/02/2018 at 08:00:18
Might as well bury the hatchet before things become worse. I don't think it was a calculated intent from Firmino as well. Just another spat of Liverpool vs Everton football rivalry.
Tony Abrahams
30 Posted 22/02/2018 at 09:14:38
Ray, I'm not accusing Firmino of anything, but he's a very fast learner though mate! Watch him running over, giving the linesman loads against Spurs, after he gave them a penalty the other week.

He's saying something, but he's learned to cover his mouth up, which takes me back to the old saying about the quickest learners are the ones that get on the most.

Dave Abrahams
31 Posted 22/02/2018 at 09:25:34
Laurence (#15) and David (#24) – plenty of common sense in your posts; maybe I think that because I agree with both of you.
Shane Corcoran
32 Posted 22/02/2018 at 10:04:36
It was all a conspiracy. The similarly coloured Liverpool scum racially abused poor Mason, in Russian obviously, so as it wouldn't be easily picked up.

"You slightly darker/lighter skinned whippersnapper" is the direct translation.

Frank Wade
33 Posted 22/02/2018 at 10:50:38
I assumed all along that the remarks were made before the pushing incident and that the pushing incident was the retaliation. I'm quite sure if those fair minded Liverpool fans were aware of this, they would not have reacted in the way they did.
Joseph Mullarkey
34 Posted 22/02/2018 at 11:36:16
If it is true that as the FA say there was nothing racist said, I am relieved.

It seems that some people were waiting with bated breath for the RS to be found guilty and would have been pleased to have had this said if only to see a RS player punished.

We should be relieved, not disappointed.

Joseph Mullarkey
35 Posted 22/02/2018 at 11:42:04
As for RS fans being described as fair-minded, that's hilarious.
Jay Woods

36 Posted 22/02/2018 at 11:47:40
So he called him an son of a bitch in Portuguese? Okay, but hateful reviling is hateful reviling, regardless of the flavour, racist or not.

Now that said, Holgate plainly roughed him up, so he can't realistically expect a non-reaction either.

James Marshall
37 Posted 22/02/2018 at 12:37:00
Aside from the words used, Holgate pushed him into the crowd which you have to admit was a bit of a dick move.

I'd have had a few words with him as well – albeit not racially motivated.

Storm in a teacup.

Brent Stephens
38 Posted 22/02/2018 at 12:38:35
No conclusive evidence of racist comments. We move on.
Tony J Williams
39 Posted 22/02/2018 at 12:38:40
As already referred to above, there was plenty of bad-mouthing between them both with no reaction, then a comment was made and Jonjoe's head was in the way and that's when Holgate exploded.

For the FA to take 6 weeks to make a decision is telling in itself. It should have taken a day or two if it was straightforward. The fact that it took longer would indicate that the FA really diug into this and didn't come to their decision lightly.

Time to move on and luckily nothing came of Holgate's tweets when he was younger (Witch hunt, anyone? Destruction of Claimant's credibility?)

Brent Stephens
40 Posted 22/02/2018 at 12:43:34
Ajay #23 "Sounds like Everton & Holgate are the accused party! Amazing!"

Where, in the quote that you cite, is there any suggestion that EFC / Holgate are the accused parties? And there's nothing in the FA statement to that effect.

Darren Marsh
41 Posted 22/02/2018 at 13:09:19
We move on. It's laughable that the FA took 6 weeks though, they probably forgot about it, the corrupt bunch of bar stewards.
Eddie Dunn
42 Posted 22/02/2018 at 14:12:42
I hate the FA. The ref bottled it at the match and both the ref and the FA didn't want a racism scandal. I would love to hear what Jonjoe Kenny thinks.
Steve Cotton
43 Posted 22/02/2018 at 14:15:35
As I said at the time, the comments of Rio Ferdinand where spot on a week after the incident: he pointed out that, because of this accusation by Mason Holgate, both the media and numerous LFC fans delved into Holgate's past, looking for something to level up the playing field. If accusations about Holgate's past had become the main issue then it would be a sad day for justice. No-one will ever be able to compain about being racially abused.

He was right to point out that such actions would stop people complaining in the first place as they would in turn become the accused. Funnily enough most of the football writers and commentators are also LFC biased already so it was a no-win before it started.

Soren Moyer
44 Posted 22/02/2018 at 14:26:31
No wonder no action will be taken as we are not one of the Sky darlings!
Brian Williams
45 Posted 22/02/2018 at 14:43:15
Ernie (#22).

Pretty sure Allardyce spoke for the club on the 12th of January.

Brent Stephens
46 Posted 22/02/2018 at 15:00:55
Soren "No wonder no action will be taken as we are not one of the Sky darlings!"

Are you talking about the lack of action against Holgate for that shove?

Soren Moyer
47 Posted 22/02/2018 at 15:04:25
No Brent. I'm talking about lack of action against Firmino.
Brent Stephens
48 Posted 22/02/2018 at 15:06:36
I thought you were, Soren. But are rs fans saying the same about no action against Holgate for the shove?
Soren Moyer
49 Posted 22/02/2018 at 15:27:23
Shoving is nowhere near as bad as using the N-word, Brent.
David Barks
50 Posted 22/02/2018 at 15:41:08
He didn't use that word, Soren.
Lyndon Lloyd
51 Posted 22/02/2018 at 17:18:42
David (50): "He didn't use that word, Soren."

We don't know that for sure, David; no-one other than Holgate, Firmino and Madley – and maybe not even them – do. That's the whole point. Madley didn't included it in his report and you would think/hope he would have done so had he clearly heard the N-word aimed at another player.

And I can't see the point in going round and round on it with ourselves or those uptight Liverpool fans who are dug in on the opposite side in their trench.

I think we need to allow for the possibility that what Firmino shouted at Holgate in Portuguese was perhaps mis-heard or mis-translated and just leave it at that because we will never know.

David Barks
52 Posted 22/02/2018 at 17:35:35
Correct, Lyndon. What I should have said is that we do not know that he said that word. We know Holgate thought he heard a racist slur. But we don't know nor was anyone able to prove that a racist slur was used. Holgate was well within his rights to be outraged and report what he believed he heard.
Ernie Baywood
53 Posted 22/02/2018 at 20:13:07
Brian (#45),

Didn't he just say that he wasn't saying anything?

Alan Smith
54 Posted 22/02/2018 at 20:43:41
Firmino's statement constructed by the someone in Liverpool's PR department doesn't include a denial.


1. Why would you call Holgate a son of a bitch in a language he couldn't understand when you could call him something far more hateful and hurtful in a language he could understand?

2. If the ref reacts slow to it or misheard it slightly, the easy way out is not to send both off and lose control of the game, but to hesitate and let both off and say nothing.

3. Why would you react the way Holgate did to a language you couldn't understand and 'son of a bitch' in Portuguese. It also sounds nothing like the N-word.

4. The FA have come to a decision based on the difficulties of deciding on a "he said, he said" case, with the advantage of protecting the reputation of their ref, the league and Liverpool who could not afford another racist issue.

The timing of this was obvious. It was always going to be released late so the media attention died down. The LFC Mirror ran the LFC PR machine lip-reader nonsense the day after the incident.

Also, at boardroom level, LFC and EFC are partners. Make no mistake. Every big Premier League vote, we are together, with them Man Utd, Arsenal, and Chelsea.

To not see this outcome the day after it happened, is to not put yourself in the shoes of the LFC PR, the Liverpool, Everton and FA board members.

Colin Gee
55 Posted 22/02/2018 at 20:57:57
I know what Mason says as he walks away from the incident back towards our goal, as I was stood just to the right of the goal at the cesspit in the second row from the front, looking at Mason as he walks back.

He walks back and says "He called me a nigger."

Alan Smith
56 Posted 22/02/2018 at 21:18:37
It's also noticeable on TV that Holgate makes that complaint about three times, as does another Everton player.

Liverpool, after Suarez, would have had to sack a £40-50m asset. There's no way he was ever going to be found guilty.

Two of their biggest business partners, the FA and EFC, were not going to force the issue. Everton are wise enough to realise that it might be one of our multi million pound assets in the future.

They're would have been plenty of evidence if it was a fan. And it wouldn't have been 9 games or 12 games ban, it would have been life. And some TW posters would have wanted to beat the racist to death with a barge pole.

We will find out in 10 years if Holgate ends up with a good enough career that warrants an autobiography. So we probably won't.

Brian Williams
57 Posted 22/02/2018 at 21:21:12
Ernie (#53).

No, he talked about the incident and then mentioned the historical tweets from Mason blah blah. Usual bullshit really.

That long ago now it seems like last season.

Tom Bowers
58 Posted 22/02/2018 at 23:05:24
Lee Mason is one of the poorest referees to have reffed in the Premier League. Should only be doing ladies non-league.

However, we knew all along no action would be taken.

As mentioned, nobody but the two involved really know so it's best left alone.

We all know, when it comes to discipline, there is one law for Liverpool and Man Utd and another for the rest

Lee Brownlie
59 Posted 23/02/2018 at 01:22:51
Personally, I'm happy enough to go with the FA's final conclusion, basically 'No proven case to answer'...

However, I reckon the instant (at the time) backlash attempt to vindictively dredge up some naively posted crap from Mason's past, to turn the spotlight back on to our man, should not be forgotten! A blatantly snide move by blatantly snide people!!

Nor do I, for one minute, believe that the FA actually took SIX weeks, to come to their conclusion, but looked into it, decided after a couple of days, then clung to whatever their thoughts ALREADY then were, just so they could much later, now, give us this 'And look how long and so thoroughly we looked into the case for!' bullshit. Fuck em.

Jack Convery
60 Posted 23/02/2018 at 11:16:54
Due to the way we are run nobody shows us any respect. Niasse and now this – no coincidence that in my opinion.

Spurs players diving yet no MotD pundit points it out. LFC players doing the same – no pundits point it out. Refs scared shitless to tackle them and, when they do, god help them – FA Cup penalty reaction at LFC vs us. City vs Wigan after an over the top reckless challenge. As in life those with respect (undeserved, mind you) get their own way the rest of us minnions don't.

Holgate, according to the FA, should have gone to Spec Savers – they do hearing tests now!

Paul Birmingham
62 Posted 23/02/2018 at 12:59:53
Time to move on. In this case we'll never know, what's been said as it's likely both players are under NDAs with the mighty FA.

Time to move on, but a mini in comparison to game- and life-changing decisions we've had against the RS over the years. That list is quite a list.

Now to salvage this car crash of a season and to see if the Dubai sun has inspired Everton's first team to a solid finish to the season.

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