The “consistent evidence” put forward by Giuseppe Bellusci led an FA disciplinary commission to clear the Leeds United defender of racially abusing Cameron Jerome, according to the panel’s written judgement.
In a document published by the Football Association yesterday, the three-man commission outlined their reasons for rejecting allegations that Bellusci aimed a racial slur at Jerome during a Championship game between Leeds and Norwich City at Carrow Road in October.
A misconduct charge brought against Bellusci by the FA was dismissed on February 6, almost three months after the alleged incident occurred, but yesterday’s publication explained in detail the claim made by Jerome and the crux of Bellusci’s defence. The 25-year-old Italian was accused of calling Jerome a “negro”, a charge which would have landed Bellusci with a minimum five-game ban if the FA’s commission had found him guilty.
Bellusci was also alleged to have made an ‘aggravate breach’ – using a racist term more than once – but the panel accepted his argument that he said the word ‘nero’, the Italian term for black, in threatening to give Jerome “a black eye”. The commission’s findings said: “Mr Bellusci has been consistent throughout in his evidence as to the words used by him and that he said the word ‘nero’ only once in a particular context.
“He maintained that case during his evidence before the commission.
“Accordingly, where their recollections differ, the commission prefers the consistent evidence of Mr Bellusci to that of Mr Jerome, specifically in relation to the word that forms the basis of the alleged aggravated breach.”
The commission, however, absolved Jerome of acting maliciously in making allegations against Bellusci.
The report clarified: “The commission reiterates that we found Mr Jerome to be a truthful witness who honestly believed that he had been racially abused.
“He may well continue to do so.”