England striker Jay Rodriguez says he is “gutted and in disbelief” at being charged by the Football Association over allegations that he racially abused Brighton defender Gaetan Bong.
The West Brom player faces a minimum ban of five matches if found guilty in relation to the flashpoint with Cameroon international Bong during a Premier League game last month.
Rodriguez is expected to contest the charge – he has until the end of next week to respond – and West Brom have pledged to support the 28-year-old.
“Absolutely gutted and in disbelief at the situation I find myself in,” Rodriguez wrote on social media.
“I 100 per cent deny the false allegation and will take the correct legal advice to prove my innocence.”
Bong complained to referee Martin Atkinson during the game and the official brought the allegation to the FA’s attention by including it in his match report.
The Brighton full-back, who moved to England in 2015, appeared to refer to the incident in a social media post after the game that has since been deleted.
“Some words should not be said on a football field and especially not by players,” Bong wrote. “Rodriguez words are unforgivable for the man I am.”
West Brom director of football administration Richard Garlick said: “As a club we remain fully supportive and committed to backing Jay throughout this process.”
The FA said: “It is alleged he [Rodriguez] used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”