Cisse last night accepted a Football Association (FA) charge of spitting at Evans and is now set to face a seven-match ban, a harsher punishment than Evans’ potential reprimand due to a red card earlier in the season.
Evans faces a six-match ban after also being charged by the FA following a review of video evidence by its panel of three former referees. Cisse yesterday publicly apologised for his actions during Wednesday’s Premier League match at St James’ Park, while Evans earlier issued a statement strongly denying spitting at the Senegal forward.
Van Gaal, speaking before the FA charge was issued, backed his player’s explanation, saying: “He was not aware he was spitting. When he was spitting on the ground it was something natural from a human being, I think.
“It was not his intention. I cannot imagine Jonny Evans could do that. He has said that also. I believe him. For me the matter is done.”
Evans has until 6pm to respond to the charge, which carries a six-game suspension. The FA’s panel was unanimous in deciding both men had a case to answer.
The Northern Ireland centre-back said: “I would like to make it clear that I did not spit at Papiss Cisse. It is not in my character or in my nature to spit at anybody, nor is it something I have ever done or would ever do. It is certainly not something that I did last night.”
Shortly afterward Cisse apologised via Newcastle’s official website, saying: “I reacted to something I found very unpleasant. Sometimes it is hard not to react, particularly in the heat of the moment. I have always tried hard to be positive a role model, especially for our young fans, and yesterday I let you down.”
If Evans is banned he will miss Monday’s FA Cup tie against Arsenal, as well as Premier League games against Spurs, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester City and either a cup semi-final or league trip to Chelsea.