MASSIMO CELLINO has confirmed that Leeds United defender Giuseppe Bellusci strongly refutes allegations that he racially abused Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome in the Championship game at Carrow Road on Tuesday evening.
The Football League are carrying out a full and thorough investigation into claims from Huddersfield-born Jerome that Bellusci aimed racist language at him during the first-half of the 1-1 draw and are currently studying a report submitted by referee Mark Clattenburg on the alleged incident.
The Yorkshire Post understands the complaint alleges Bellusci used the word ‘negro’.
The governing body are expected to now contact officials from both Norwich and Leeds and review video footage and formally speak to Jerome.
United owner Cellino is adamant that Bellusci, who joined the club from Serie A outfit Catania for £1.6m in August, is no racist and has revealed that the 25-year-old has been left ‘shocked’ by the allegations of Jerome.
In addition, Cellino has pledged to fight any potential FA charges that could transpire, while insisting he would not tolerate having any racists at the club.
Cellino, who is planning to write to the FA to clarify his position, said: “Bellusci is no racist. I spoke with him and he said ‘you must be joking, I said nothing like this to him (Jerome).’ 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 a**e and kick him out before the FA has a chance.
“Bellusci says he spoke (to Jerome) in Italian. I don’t know if he (Jerome) speaks Italian too, but Bellusci swears to me he said nothing racist.
“He was p****d off, sure, because he got hit in the neck and the face but he denies anything racist. I believe him and I will support him.”
It is understood the FA are planning to visit Elland Road tomorrow to interview United’s Bellusci.
There is no timescale on the investigation, but in previous high-profile allegations of racism against a player, the governing body have deliberated for some considerable time before making an announcement.
They include the famous case when ex-Manchester United full-back Patrick Evra complained that he was racially abused by former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in the Premier League clash at Old Trafford on October 16, 2011.
After opening up an investigation, the FA took until November 16 before announcing it would charge Suarez.
The following month, the Uruguayan was handed an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine by the FA after being found guilty of racially abusing Evra.
Clattenburg halted Tuesday’s game midway through the first half after receiving a complaint from Jerome after a verbal altercation with Bellusci.
The Italian was spoken to by the County Durham official, who also addressed Canaries manager Neil Adams and United head coach Darko Milanic on the touchline.
Moments later when play got underway again, Jerome was cautioned for a challenge on Bellusci, with news filtering through after the game that the former Cardiff and Stoke forward had made a complaint against the defender following the game.
Jerome tweeted: “On what was actually said would not be fair for me to say at this point but it will be a matter for the governing body to deal with.
“As all will know an allegation has been made by myself to the referee in which he made note of and will write it in his match report.”
An FA spokesperson confirmed the allegations, saying: “The FA can confirm it is investigating an incident of alleged discriminatory abuse in the Norwich City versus Leeds United fixture at Carrow Road on Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
“The FA takes seriously any allegations of this type.”
Milanic declined to comment on the incident after the game, but did confirm he would speak with his defender about the allegations on the trip back from East Anglia.
Norwich manager Adams said: “Cameron Jerome has alleged he was the subject of a racist remark. Because of that, Mark Clattenburg, who I felt handled the incident very well, came over to the touchline to explain to Darko and myself what I have just told you.
“He spoke to Cameron because of the way he had reacted. That was what he explained to us.
“He spoke to the players at half-time with a representative from each club and statements have been made now.
“It must now go through the proper channels.”
Meanwhile, anti-racism group Kick It Out have revealed that they have offered Jerome “support and any assistance he may require” following the claims.
On the right track at Town: Page 20.