Leeds United back Giuseppe Bellusci after racial abuse charge
Club will contest the FA charge for incident involving Cameron Jerome in October
Massimo Cellino President and Director of Leeds United has backed his player amid racist allegations and charges. Photograph: Clint Hughes/Getty Images
Leeds United’s Giuseppe Bellusci will contest a misconduct charge from the Football Association following allegations that the central defender directed a racist comment towards the Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome.
The incident occurred during a 1-1 Championship draw at Carrow Road in October and involved Jerome making a complaint to the referee, Mark Clattenburg, in the wake of a first half confrontation between the two players.
Jerome told Clattenburg that he had been verbally abused by the 25-year-old Italian and the referee temporarily stopped the game before exchanging words with both dugouts.
After the match, Neil Adams, the Norwich manager, brought the issue into the public domain. “Cameron has alleged that he was the subject of a racist comment,” he said. “Mark Clattenberg spoke to Cameron because of the way he had reacted. He spoke to the players at half-time with a representative from each club. Bellusci is the player who was alleged to have made the remark.”
The FA have now confirmed they have been investigating Cameron’s complaint and in a statement alleged that Bellusci’s language “included a reference to ethnic origin/and or colour and/or race”. This language constitutes an “aggravated breach” of their rules regarding abusive and insulting language.
The defender, who was signed from Catania for £1.6m in the summer, has until January 2nd to respond to the charge and will be backed to the hilt by the controversial Leeds owner, Massimo Cellino, who says he maintains a zero tolerance policy towards racism at Elland Road and suggested things have got lost in translation.
“Bellusci is no racist,” Cellino told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “I spoke with him and he said: ‘You must be joking, I said nothing like this to him.’ 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 arse and kick him out before the FA has a chance.
“Bellusci says he spoke in Italian. I don’t know if (Jerome) speaks Italian too but Bellusci swears to me he said nothing racist.
“He was pissed off, sure, because he got hit in the neck and the face but he denies anything racist. I believe him and I’ll support him. If any Leeds player was shown to be a racist, he’d be out. That’s my philosophy and my promise.”
Citing what they believe is a lack of witnesses to the incident, Leeds also released a statement confirming Bellusci – a one-time team-mate of Mario Balotelli during the pair’s time in Italy’s Under-21 squad – would be challenging the charge.
“The player has consistently made it clear to the club that he did not use racist language,” it said. “The club understands that there is no third party evidence supporting Mr Jerome’s allegation. Accordingly, the player will be contesting the charge.”