Cisse apologizes for spitting at Evans; both players charged by FA

Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse appears to spit in the face of Manchester United defender Jonny Evans.

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Papiss Cisse and Jonny Evans have both been hit with a Football Association charge for allegedly spitting at each other.

The Newcastle striker and the Manchester United defender have been charged with a breach of FA Rule E1[a] following an incident in Wednesday night’s Barclays Premier League clash between the clubs at St James’ Park which was not seen by the match officials.

An FA statement read: "Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse and Manchester United’s Jonny Evans have both been charged by the FA following their game yesterday [Wednesday 4 March 2015].

"The charges are in relation to an alleged breach of FA Rule E1[a] in that in or around the 38th minute of the game the two players spat at each other. The incidents were not seen by the match officials but caught on video.

"Both players have until 6pm on Friday 6 March 2015 to respond to the charge."

The announcement came after the two players had issued markedly different statements about the incident, which came after Cisse had reacted angrily to a challenge by Evans.

Match referee Anthony Taylor allowed play to continue and was facing the ball as the two men clashed, with television replays capturing the alleged spitting.

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Evans issued his own statement on Thursday afternoon categorically denying he had spat at Cisse.

In it, he said: "Having woken up this morning, I am shocked to have seen the media coverage from last night’s match. I would like to make it clear that I did not spit at Papiss Cisse.

"I was totally unaware of any spitting incident and had assumed that the issue at the time was with the challenge and his attempted retaliation to the tackle from the floor.

"During the game, Papiss Cisse and I spoke about the incident and it is clear by my reaction in the television footage that I was totally surprised by any suggestion of spitting.

"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."

Cisse followed suit shortly afterwards, although in more contrite fashion.

He said: "I have apologies to make to a lot of people today. Firstly to my team-mates and to our supporters, secondly to Jonny Evans, and thirdly to every football fan who saw the incident between myself and Jonny.

"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 a positive role model, especially for our young fans, and yesterday I let you down.

"I hope children out there playing football for their clubs and schools this weekend will know better than to retaliate when they are angry. Perhaps when they see the problem it now causes me and my team, they will be able to learn from my mistake, not copy it."

However, whatever the motivation of either man in speaking out, they both ended up facing possible sanctions with a panel of former referees agreeing unanimously that they should be charged.

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The FA statement continued: "In Premier League matches, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel of former elite referees will be asked by the FA to review the footage independently of each other and advise what, if any action, they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time.

"For an FA charge to follow, all three panel members must agree it is a sending-off offence. In this instance, the decision by the panel was unanimous in respect of both players."

If convicted, the two men face mandatory six-games bans with Cisse likely to be handed an extended suspension after accepting a violent conduct charge for elbowing Everton’s Seamus Coleman earlier in the season, again on video evidence.