FA reveal findings after 'thorough investigation' into Leeds United left-back Gjanni Alioski's gesture at Burnley's Dwight McNeil

Leeds United left-back Gjanni Alioski will face no action from the FA after a 'thorough investigation' into a gesture aimed at Burnley's Dwight McNeil late last season.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 12:26 pm
REFEREE REPORT - Graham Scott made Marcelo Bielsa and Sean Dyche aware that an allegation had been made against Leeds United's Gjanni Alioski, who has now been cleared by the FA. Pic: Getty

The FA have confirmed that no disciplinary action will be taken because none of the witnesses who were interviewed during the investigation conclusively believed Alioski's gesture was discriminatory.

McNeil had confronted Alioski after a challenge left the Leeds defender on the turf, leaning down to remonstrate with him. When Alioski got to his feet he stuck out his tongue, and put his hands to the side of his head in a playground gesture.

Match referee Graham Scott halted the game at Turf Moor on May 15 to speak to Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa and Burnley manager Sean Dyche and make them aware that an allegation had been made.

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After the game Dyche confirmed to the media that one of his players had made a report, but refused to comment on the nature of the allegation, while Bielsa said he didn't see the incident and couldn't comment.

The FA's investigation concluded that while the complaint, which was not made by McNeil, was in good faith, there was insufficient evidence to charge Alioski with a breach of FA Rule E3.2.

A statement from the game's authorities said: "During a Premier League fixture on Saturday 15 May 2021 at Turf Moor Stadium, a complaint was made by a Burnley FC player that Leeds United FC’s Alioski had made a gesture, which was also captured on footage, towards another Burnley FC player during the 69th minute that could potentially be perceived as discriminatory.

"Alioski was spoken to by the Match Officials after the fixture. He denied making any form of discriminatory gesture and said that he had mockingly imitated a ‘cry baby’ gesture in response to having earlier been referred to as one by an opposition player.

FLASH POINT- Dwight McNeil was unhappy with Gjanni Alioski's reaction to a challenge during Leeds United's win at Burnley, before the Whites defender responded with a playground gesture. Pic: Getty

"The FA began an investigation immediately and witness statements were taken from all relevant players and officials. The Burnley FC player that the gesture was made towards did not see it at the time and the complaint was made by a teammate.

"Alioski was interviewed by The FA and maintained his account to the Match Officials throughout that his gesture had not been discriminatory at any point or been intended to be discriminatory.

"All witnesses were also shown the video footage during the investigation. While the original complainant maintained that the gesture could be perceived as discriminatory, he stated that it could also be perceived as a childish schoolyard gesture. Another Burley FC player accepted referring to Alioski as a ‘cry baby’ and a further Burnley FC player stated that he believed Alioski was acting childishly. No witnesses that were interviewed conclusively believed Alioski had made a discriminatory gesture.

"Based on all the available evidence in the case, The FA is not satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge Alioski with a breach of FA Rule E3.2 and he will face no further action.

"The FA is satisfied that the complaint was made in good faith and there is no suggestion of this being an intentionally false or malicious allegation.

"All complaints and allegations of discriminatory abuse are taken extremely seriously, and The FA encourages all participants who believe that they have been subject or witness to such conduct to report it through the appropriate channels."

Alioski bowed out of the Euros last night with North Macedonia's 3-0 defeat by the Netherlands. The 29-year-old is out of contract at the end of the month, although Leeds have made him an offer to stay and hope to retain his services.