West Brom's Rodriguez charged with racial abuse charge by FA

LONDON — West Bromwich Albion forward Jay Rodriguez was charged by the English Football Association on Thursday with racially abusing an opponent during a Premier League game.

The England international, who faces a five-game ban if found guilty, denies the charge.

"Absolutely gutted and in disbelief at the situation I find myself in," he wrote on Twitter.

Rodriguez was seen pinching his nose and saying something to Brighton defender Gaetan Bong, who is black, after an on-field confrontation during the Jan. 13 game at The Hawthorns. Bong, a former Cameroon international, alerted the referee moments later.

The FA said Rodriguez is alleged to have "used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race."

West Brom said it remained "fully supportive" of Rodriguez, with director Richard Garlick adding the club is "committed to backing Jay throughout this process."

Rodriguez has until Feb. 16 to respond to the charge.

The incident took place during the second half of West Brom's 2-0 victory over Brighton.

There have been two high-profile incidents of racist abuse in Premier League games.

Luis Suarez was banned for eight games in 2011, while he was playing for Liverpool, for repeatedly hurling a racial slur at then-Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. Chelsea captain John Terry was suspended for four games the following year for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers in an on-field confrontation.

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