Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri releases statement after court acquittal
Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri has just released a statement after he was earlier 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.
Forestieri has just released a statement on Twitter, which said: “I am very pleased with the verdict reached today by the district judge at Mansfield Magistrates Court to acquit me of the public order charge brought against me.
“I was surprised and very disappointed that the Crown Prosecution Service brought a charge against me in the first place given the circumstances of the incident and the evidence which was used to form the basis of the charge.
“I have strenuously denied the charge from the outset and I have now been vindicated by the decision of the judge.
“The last eight months have been a difficult time for me and my family. I now wish to put the matter behind me and focus on my football.
“I would like to thank my family, friends, everyone at Sheffield Wednesday and in particular the fans together with my legal team for the support they have given me throughout.”
Earlier, the judge said 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 allegedly racially abused him in the 80th minute of the match.
After the verdict, Mr Forestieri shared an emotional embrace with his wife.