‘Did it really have to go to court?’ – Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce has his say on Fernando Forestieri trial
Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce says that a weight has been lifted for star man Fernando Forestieri after he was found not guilty of racially aggravated harassment.
Forestieri pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday to charges of using racial slurs towards Mansfield’s Krystian Pearce and a further charge of using threatening words and behaviour.
And the Owls forward was cleared of all charges with the magistrate at Mansfield Magistrates Court saying that he could not be satisfied the 29-year-old used a slur towards Pearce.
Speaking to the media ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Stoke City this weekend, Owls boss Bruce said: “It’s been hanging over him and I’ve picked up the pieces of it in the last six to eight weeks that I have been here.
“Looking at it from afar, did it really have to go that far and go to court and all the rest of it with all the cost involved? I’m not so sure it did, in my opinion, warrant going to court and the money that that has cost for something which was dismissed handsomely.
“However, let’s hope we can just get on with playing the game now and see Forestieri at his best.
“It has been hanging over him for a while - no matter how tough you are and what you are, you go into a court and people are accusing you of something, it’s not easy just to dismiss. I hope it takes the weight off his shoulders and he goes and enjoys himself.
“Certainly when he’s playing with a smile on his face, he’s a good lad. I’m sure it is [playing on his mind] to a degree, it would happen to us all if you were faced with a court hearing of course it would be.”
Forestieri has been absent from Wednesday’s match day squad since the Steel City Derby through injury, but Bruce confirmed that the international break had provided a vital week of recovery and training for all the injured players at Middlewood Road.
“He has trained all week and he was uncomfortable against Sheffield United and taking him off at half time probably helped.
“That was only 20 odd days ago, he has trained all week and has put himself in contention.”
In a statement posted on social media Forestieri 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.”