West Brom's Jay Rodriguez cleared of racial abuse charge

West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez has been cleared of a charge of alleged racial abuse.

The 28-year-old was accused of using "abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race" towards Brighton's Gaetan Bong during Albion's 2-0 win in January.

Rodriguez denied what he described as a "false allegation" and requested a personal hearing, which took place at Wembley on Wednesday.

A statement released by the Football Association on Friday afternoon read: "Having considered all the evidence, the Independent Regulatory Commission determined that on the balance of probabilities the allegation was not proven."

The FA stressed there had been "no suggestion by any party involved in this case that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint," and said it was "completely satisfied that this was a complaint made in absolute good faith."

Press Association Sport reported Rodriguez claimed he purely commented that Bong had bad breath.

He faced a five-game ban if found guilty but the club backed the former Southampton man throughout the disciplinary process and were pleased with the verdict.

A West Brom statement read: "Albion have welcomed the verdict of an FA hearing which has dismissed an allegation of racist abuse by striker Jay Rodriguez."

Baggies' director of football administration Richard Garlick, who attended the hearing, said: "Everyone at the club is delighted for Jay because this has been a trying period for him.

"He has always maintained his innocence and we are naturally pleased the Commission has dismissed the charge."

After receiving the news, Bong expressed his disappointment with the ruling.

He posted a statement on Twitter, saying: "I am very disappointed because the lack of evidence has not led to sanctions against such attitudes.

"But in spite of my disappointment, I encourage everyone, men and women, who may also be subjected to a similar experience, to stand up and denounce such acts, even if the chances of obtaining sanctions are likely to be very small.

"Despite the lack of evidence, I am certain of what I heard on the field. Human rights are universal rights that are not foreign to any culture, and they belong to all countries."