Norwich City ‘deeply disappointed’ after Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci successfully appeals racial abuse charge
- Credit: PA
Norwich City officials have said they are 'deeply disappointed' that Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci has successfully appealed his Football Association charge for racially abusing Canaries striker Cameron Jerome.
The Italian defender was charged with misconduct by the FA in December but denied the charge and requested a personal hearing.
The FA charged the 25-year-old with misconduct for allegedly using racist language towards Jerome at Carrow Road during City's 1-1 draw with Leeds on Tuesday, October 21.
Bellusci and Jerome clashed during the first half of the Championship match, leading to referee Mark Clattenburg stopping the game temporarily so that he could speak with City manager Neil Adams and Leeds boss Darko Milanic – both of whom have since left their roles because of poor performances on the pitch.
Clattenburg then included his version of events in a report of the game and the FA announced it would investigate the allegation from Jerome.
An FA statement confirming the verdict said: 'Leeds United defender Giuseppe Bellusci has had an FA charge against him found not proven by an Independent Regulatory Commission.
'It was alleged that during the Norwich City versus Leeds United fixture on 21 October 2014, Mr Bellusci used abusive and/or insulting words towards opponent Cameron Jerome contrary to Rule E3(1).
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'It was further alleged that this breach of Rule E3(1) was an 'Aggravated Breach' pursuant to Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.'
The Canaries have reacted to the news with a statement on the club's official website, including comments from Jerome.
The club statement says: 'Norwich City is deeply disappointed by the 'not proven' verdict from the Independent Regulatory Commission appointed to investigate allegations of a racist comment by Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci towards Cameron Jerome, during our Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road on October 21.
'In its verdict, the commission commented that Cameron Jerome was a truthful and honest witness throughout the long investigation into the incident.
'Norwich City fully supports Cameron, who genuinely believed he was on the receiving end of unacceptable language on the field of play, reported it in the correct manner to the match officials and has conducted himself with dignity throughout the months since the incident.
'This weekend's game against Blackpool is our annual 'Kick It Out' game, in which we will once again highlight our determination to combat discrimination in all its guises on and off the pitch.
'The club was proud to have been awarded the Kick It Out (KIO) Preliminary Standard earlier this season and will continue to work with KIO and other relevant organisations to maintain and promote our zero-tolerance stance on racism.
'As part of this on-going commitment, the club would certainly urge players at all levels of the game to report unacceptable language used to them on or off the pitch via the appropriate channels, as Cameron has done in this instance.'
Jerome, the club's top scorer so far this season with 14 goals in 25 games, also made his own statement.
'I heard a comment made to me which was totally unacceptable during the game against Leeds and I reported it straight away to the referee,' the former Cardiff and Stoke striker said.
'I'm glad the commission has said that they believe I truthfully reported what I genuinely believe I heard.
'While I'm obviously disappointed with the not proven verdict, now I'm just focussing as always on my next game for Norwich City. But I will always continue to report anything unacceptable I hear said to me on or off the pitch and I would certainly encourage any other players in a similar situation to do so as well.
'We must stand up together to eradicate these problems from our game and our society.'