Leeds United defender Giuseppe Bellusci has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association for alleged racist comments directed towards Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome.
The incident occurred in the Sky Bet Championship match between the two sides at Carrow Road on Tuesday October 21, which finished 1-1, when Jerome complained to referee Mark Clattenburg that he was verbally abused by the 25-year-old Italian midway through the first half following a confrontation between the two players.
Clattenburg stopped the game and had words with both dugouts following the exchange.
The FA confirmed they were investigating Jerome’s allegations and, in a statement, alleged that Bellusci’s comments “included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”
The statement read: “Leeds United player Giuseppe Bellusci has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 which is alleged to have occurred during the fixture between Norwich City and Leeds United on October 21 2014.
“It is alleged Bellusci used abusive and/or insulting words towards Cameron Jerome, of Norwich City FC, contrary to Rule E3(1).
“It is further alleged that this breach of Rule E3(1) is an “Aggravated Breach” as defined in Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”
Bellusci, a summer signing from Catania, has until January 2 to respond to the charge, with a club statement having confirmed that they will contest the charge.
Part of the statement read: “The player has consistently made it clear to the club that he did not use racist language.
“The club understands that there is no third party evidence supporting Mr Jerome’s allegation. Accordingly, the player will be contesting the charge.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino defended Bellusci in the aftermath of the incident, but suggested he could even be shown the door should he be found guilty.
“Bellusci is no racist,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “I spoke with him and he said ‘you must be joking, I said nothing like this to him (Jerome).’ He is surprised by this. He is shocked.
“I don’t allow racists at this club and I won’t allow racists at this club ever. If one of my players is a racist, I’ll kick his a**e and kick him out before the FA has a chance.
“Bellusci says he spoke (to Jerome) in Italian. I don’t know if he (Jerome) speaks Italian too but Bellusci swears to me he said nothing racist.
“He was p****d off, sure, because he got hit in the neck and the face but he denies anything racist. I believe him and and I’ll support him.
“I’ll write to them to clarify my position on Bellusci and racism. If any Leeds player was shown to be a racist, he’d be out. That’s my philosophy and my promise.”
Leeds reacted by releasing a statement confirming Bellusci would be contesting the charge.
The statement on the Leeds’ official website said: “The player has consistently made it clear to the club that he did not use racist language.
“The club understands that there is no third party evidence supporting Mr Jerome’s allegation. Accordingly, the player will be contesting the charge.”