Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri found not guilty of racially abusing opponent in friendly match with Mansfield Town which ended in mass brawl
Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri has been found not guilty of racially aggravated harassment.
The 29-year-old was charged in relation to a post-match brawl on July 24 last year after a friendly against Mansfield Town.
He pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated harassment and a further charge of using threatening words and behaviour.
District Judge Jonathan Taffe found Forestieri not guilty, saying he could not be satisfied the footballer used a racial slur towards Mansfield’s Krystian Pearce.
However, he said he believed Mr Pearce was ‘unlikely’ to have been mistaken about hearing it.
The judge added he was ‘satisfied’ that both the complainant and alleged victim had provided ‘clear and consistent’ evidence of what had happened at the end of last year’s match at Mansfield Town’s One Call Stadium.
But he said in the absence of any corroborating evidence of what had been said, there was no way he could find Mr Forestieri guilty.
During this morning’s trial at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court, Forestieri said he met Mr Pearce in the changing room after the game and swore ‘on his son’s life’ he had not said anything racist to him on the pitch.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said he found the accusation ‘upsetting’ and ‘deeply offensive’ and insisted he only swore at Mr Pearce in Spanish.
Earlier, Krystian Pearce told the court he had demanded an apology from Mr Forestieri after the game otherwise he would report the matter to the police.
He admitted that the pair had exchanged insults during the game, which finished 2-1 to Mansfield, but that the row had only escalated after the Sheffield Wednesday player racially abused him in the 80th minute of the match.
After the verdict, Mr Forestieri shared an emotional embrace with his wife before saying nothing as he left court through a scrum of reporters.