FA to investigate Holgate-Firmino Mersyside derby row

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The Football Association have opened an investigation into a clash between Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Everton’s Mason Holgate in Friday’s FA Cup third round tie.

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“The FA can confirm that referee Bobby Madley was made aware of an allegation during the Liverpool versus Everton game at Anfield last night and has subsequently reported this to The FA, which will now begin making enquiries into the matter,” the FA said on Saturday.

Holgate pushed Brazilian Firmino, 26, into the advertising hoardings in the 40th minute of the Merseyside derby and the Liverpool forward reacted by verbally abusing Everton’s 21-year-old English defender.

An animated Holgate, who is mixed-race, then complained to the referee about Firmino’s comments and Madley held a touchline discussion with his fourth official.

Asked by a reporter whether Holgate had accused Firmino of using a racist term, Everton manager Sam Allardyce said: “I‘m telling you nothing until whatever systems are used to find out what did and didn’t happen. I‘m here to talk about football, not controversial incidents. They have to be dealt with by the authorities.”

Allardyce declined to say whether he had discussed the matter with Holgate.

“Even if I had or I hadn’t, I wouldn’t tell anyone in the press conference. That is for other areas of the football club. I have told the Director of Football (Steve Walsh) to sort that out.”

Liverpool said that they would assist the FA with their inquiry.

“The club and player will fully co-operate with the relevant authorities to ensure the facts are established in a thorough manner, if deemed necessary or requested. While that process is ongoing, we will not be making any further comment,” Liverpool said.

Liverpool won the game 2-1.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris