Football Association: Gaëtan Bong boos from Burnley fans ‘unacceptable’
The Football Association has labelled Burnley supporters’ booing of Brighton & Hove Albion defender Gaëtan Bong throughout Saturday’s Premier League match at Turf Moor as “unacceptable.”
Back in January, Bong accused Burnley-born striker Jay Rodriquez of racially abusing him by pinching his nose after the two players clashed during a 2-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
Although Rodriguez was charged afterwards by the Football Association, the serious accusations of racism were deemed “not proven” earlier this month which led to both men continuing their spat.
Bong stressed that he would “never try to bring a false charge against a fellow footballing professional” because his “conscious is clear,” while Rodriguez, heavily in denial, insisted that “the truth always comes out.”
The 28-year-old frontman started his career at Burnley in 2007 and scored 31 goals in 105 appearances before his £7m move to Southampton five years later, and chants of “Jay Rodriguez, he’s one of our own” were heard on top of the boos.
A statement from the FA was released on Monday afternoon. It read: “The Football Association considers the behaviour of some supporters on Saturday towards Gaëtan Bong to be unacceptable.
“It needs repeating, following the recent disciplinary matter, that there was no suggestion by any party involved in that case that the player made a malicious or fabricated complaint.
“The FA was wholly satisfied that the complaint was made in absolute good faith.”
Burnley and Brighton played out a 0-0 bore draw at the weekend, but both teams edged closer to their targets this season; Burnley are now just one point away from Europa League football next season while Brighton have all-but avoided immediate relegation back down to the Sky Bet Championship.
After the full-time whistle at Turf Moor, the Seagulls’ manager Chris Hughton called the Burnley fans’ behaviour “shameful” when speaking to the media regarding his opinion on the incident.
Hughton said: “I would have to say that I thought the reaction of the Burnley supporters towards Gaëtan every time he got the ball was shameful, I really do.
“What they should do, the Burnley supporters, they should look at the two statements that came out afterwards – one from the independent committee and one from the FA. But I thought the reaction to Gaëtan Bong was shameful.”
Bong is thought to be a down-to-earth, professional character in the dressing, and Hughton fully backed that reputation as he added: “He’s an incredibly disciplined and straight individual – as honest a person as you will meet. It’s something that happened, it’s not nice at all and of course he’s big enough and strong enough to cope with it. As showed by his performance.
“I was incredibly surprised, I must admit. I certainly didn’t expect it here.”
Anti-racism in football charity ‘Kick It Out’ have also expressed their concern.
“Kick It Out is concerned at reports that Gaëtan Bong was booed on Saturday for raising an alleged incident of racism with The Football Association.
“Kick It Out believes all allegations of discrimination must follow a fair and transparent process for all parties involved and the organisation accepts the ‘not proven’ ruling made by the FA, due to insufficient evidence.
“However, it is important to acknowledge that an allegation found ‘not proven’ does not mean that the complainant has lied or acted in bad faith.
“Kick It Out fully supports the decision by Gaëtan Bong to report the alleged incident and encourages any player who believes they have been the target of discriminatory abuse to do the same.”
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