West Bromwich Albion striker Jay Rodriguez is ready to fight a Football Association charge after allegations he racially abused Gaetan Bong, the Brighton defender.
An FA statement read: "Jay Rodriguez has been charged following an incident during the West Bromwich Albion versus Brighton and Hove Albion match on 13 January 2018".
Richard Garlick, West Brom's director of football administration, released a statement on Thursday to say they would "remain fully supportive and committed" to Rodriguez during the process.
It is not clear what was said, but Bong immediately complained to referee Martin Atkinson who included the incident in his report.
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28-year-old charged for abusive and insulting words included a reference to ethnic origin/color or race.
"He was upset because I blocked him and after that he said some words", Bong later said to SFR (H/T the Independent). He said racist comments. I am a black man. "We can not accept this behavior in 2018. He said that because of the color of my skin". I asked him to repeat what he said and I think he realized what he said and tried to limit the damage.
Rodriguez was seen pinching his nose and saying something to Brighton defender Gaetan Bong, who is black, after an on-field confrontation during the January 13 game at The Hawthorns. This is a serious accusation so he wants to defend it and that's all I really want to say on it. Not to a human being.
Brighton said their player had the club's full backing as the FA opened its investigation, while West Brom manager Alan Pardew has said he found it "very difficult" to believe Rodriguez would make a racist comment.