West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez set to respond to FA charge
Jay Rodriguez is set to hand in evidence from an expert lip-reader this week in an effort to clear his name and escape a five-match ban for alleged racial abuse.
The Baggies striker has to respond to an FA charge against him by tomorrow, after which a date for his hearing from a three-person independent panel will be set.
It’s alleged that Rodriguez used abusive or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin, colour, or race to Brighton's Gaetan Bong during a match in January.
But Rodriguez vehemently denies what he described as a ‘false allegation’ and has hired a lip reader and a lawyer to put together his response to the charge.
Last month, the FA decided not to charge Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino after Everton's Mason Holgate accused him of racial abuse following an assessment from Portuguese-speaking lip-reading experts.
Rodriguez is Albion’s top scorer this season with eight goals in all competitions and only Ben Foster and Ahmed Hegazi have completed more minutes for the Baggies this season.
If found guilty, he will be banned for a minimum of five matches under FA rules introduced in 2013.
Of those who could replace him, Daniel Sturridge is currently sidelined with an injury, although Hal Robson-Kanu will return from his hamstring injury this weekend.
However, Rodriguez is determined to prove his innocence and is willing to take the issue to court in order to clear his name.
When the FA charged him, he said: "Absolutely gutted and in disbelief at the situation I find myself in. I 100 per cent deny the false allegation and will take the correct legal advice to prove my innocence."
Bong has reportedly accused Rodriguez of saying ‘You’re black and you stink’ during an altercation in Albion’s 2-0 win over Brighton at The Hawthorns.
Rodriguez, who wafted his hand in front of his nose during the incident, claims his jibe was purely a joke about bad breath.
Albion’s £12m summer signing was granted a three-week extension by the FA to mount his response after he was initially handed just a week.
Albion remain in full support of their striker and will assist him during the hearing if necessary, while Rodriguez has also received supporting character references from staff at his previous clubs Southampton and Burnley.