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SWFC STRIKER FORESTIERI FOUND NOT GUILTY IN COURT
2nd April 2019 20:55


How Sheffield Wednesday star Fernando Forestieri reacted when he heard not guilty verdict
Sheffield Star, by DAN WINDHAM, Thursday 28 March 2019

It was an emotional day at Mansfield Magsitrates’ Court as Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri was cleared of racially aggravated harrassment. 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. The judge found Forestieri not guilty, saying he could not be satisfied the footballer used the racial slur towards Mansfield’s Krystian Pearce. However, he said he believed Mr Pearce was ‘unlikely’ to have been mistaken about hearing it.

The judge added he was ‘satisfied’ that both the complainant and alleged victim had provided ‘clear and consistent’ evidence of what had happened at the end and after last year’s pre-season friendly. But he said in the absence of any corroborating evidence the prosecution had not met the burden of proof required of them.

Read more at: https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/how-sheffield-wednesday-star-fernando-forestieri-reacted-when-he-heard-not-guilty-verdict-1-9678589

During this morning’s trial, Forestieri said he ‘swears on his son’s life’ he did not say anything racist.

Forestieri arrived at court this morning hand-in-hand with his wife Andria Enangelou and alongside his teammate Atdhe Nuhiu.

Nuhiu, as well as coach Lee Bullen and Nicky Weaver gave evidence in the trial before the judge found the striker not guilty.

Upon hearing the verdict, Forestieri shared an emotional embrace with his tearful wife before walking past reporters outside the court.

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Everything Fernando Forestieri said in court as Sheffield Wednesday star is found not guilty
Sheffield Star, by DAN WINDHAM, Thursday 28 March 2019

Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri has been found not guilty of racially aggrevated 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. The judge found Forestieri not guilty, saying he could not be satisfied the footballer used the racial slur towards Mansfield’s Krystian Pearce. However, he said he believed Mr Pearce was ‘unlikely’ to have been mistaken about hearing it.

The judge added he was ‘satisfied’ that both the complainant and alleged victim had provided ‘clear and consistent’ evidence of what had happened at the end and after last year’s pre-season friendly. But he said in the absence of any corroborating evidence the prosecution had not met the burden of proof required of them.

Read more at: https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/everything-fernando-forestieri-said-in-court-as-sheffield-wednesday-star-is-found-not-guilty-1-9678407

During this morning’s trial, Forestieri said he ‘swears on his son’s life’ he did not say anything racist.

This is everything Forestieri said in court today as he gave evidence through an interpreter.

- In a statement by Forestieri, read out in court, he said he ‘swears on his son’s life’ he did not say anything racist, just words in Spanish that were not racist.

- He said he wanted to confirm that he was not a racist person. I never said the ‘N’ word or anything else racist as Mr Pearce alleges and I find the allegation ‘deeply upsetting and very offensive’.

- Only became aware of the allegation of racist abuse after the game in the changing room. ‘He thought we were just exchanging words like you would in any game. I was happy to meet him after the game and said it had just been a misunderstanding.’

- ‘I said to him that if that is what you heard I am really, really sorry. I said look around the room, are there not people of colour.’

- ‘The Spanish phrase referred to Mr Pearce’s mother. He understands it is bad but that it is a normal thing to say on a football pitch. The ‘N’ word was not inserted into the phrase in question.’

- ‘The Spanish phrase is ‘la concha de tu madre’.

- He didn’t know which of the words could be mistaken for the ‘n’ word by Mr Pearce. ‘When he says bad words in Spanish he doesn’t mix them with English as they don’t come’.

-The ‘n’ word just isn’t a word he uses and he didn’t even know how to pronounce it as his English is not good’.

- ‘In South America there is not much racism so you would not use n***** or negro in Spanish as a derogatory term. Some people might use the word monkey but normally insults are about people’s mothers.’

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Sheffield Wednesday player Fernando Forestieri cleared of racism on Mansfield Town's Krystian Pearce
by ANDY DONE-JOHNSON, Thursday 28 March 2019

Footballer Fernando Forestieri has been cleared of racially aggravated behaviour following a 'friendly' against Mansfield Town last year

The Sheffield Wednesday player, 28, of Chambers Grove, Sheffield, also denied using threatening words and behaviour, after a brawl broke out on the pitch on July 24 last year. The sides squared up just before the end, but it finally erupted after the whistle with stewards trying to separate players amid the flying fists and boots.

In an opening statement the prosecution alleged Fernando Forestieri used the words ‘n*****’ and ‘s***’ and had a heated exchange with a Mansfield Town player in the 80th minute of the match, according to journalist Dan Hayes, who is reporting live from Mansfield Magistrates' Court.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/news/sheffield-wednesday-player-fernando-forestieri-cleared-of-racism-on-mansfield-town-s-krystian-pearce-1-9678762

But finding Forestieri the judge said he could not be satisfied to a criminal standard that Forestieri had said the offending word, although he said he believed Mr Pearce was ‘unlikely’ to have been mistaken about hearing it.

Character witnesses also told the court that Forestieri had not previously showed signs of racist behaviour.

Giving evidence earlier, Stags' player Krystian Pearce told the court that an argument had developed between him and Forestieri on the pitch, which escalated when Forestieri swore to him in Spanish.

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft told the court that he noticed Krystian Pearce's ‘focus changed’ and it was not an 'on the ball' incident. He became aware the problem was with Krystian Pearce and Forestieri, and was told by the fourth official that there had been an alleged ‘racist incident’. Mr Flitcroft then entered the field of play and later took Pearce off the pitch to ‘protect him’.

Referee John Brooks told the court that the match was largely uneventful and peaceful until the 88th minute at which point Pearce told him he had been racially abused and was visibly distressed. He then told the fourth official and there was later a mass brawl after the game finished. He said that he didn't hear the alleged racial abuse. After the not guilty verdict, Forestieri left the hearing without making comment.

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Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri not guilty of racial abuse
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47738045

A footballer has been acquitted of racially abusing an opposition player before a mass brawl.

Prosecutors had alleged Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri insulted Mansfield Town's Krystian Pearce during a pre-season friendly.

Mansfield Magistrates' Court heard Mr Pearce had to be restrained during a "40-man brawl".

Mr Forestieri, 29, was found not guilty of racially aggravated harassment and using threatening words or behaviour.

District Judge Jonathan Taffe ruled Mr Pearce may have misheard Mr Forestieri as "it was very loud" at the ground on 24 July.

The court heard the incident began with a foul by Mr Forestieri on a Mansfield player which prompted his team-mates, including Mr Pearce, to react.

The prosecution alleged this led to a "heated exchange of words" and while Mr Forestieri was speaking mainly in Spanish, he used derogatory racial terms.

Mansfield manager David Flitcroft told the court he felt he had to pull Mr Pearce away from Mr Forestieri after being told about a "racist incident" by the fourth official.

Mr Pearce confronted Mr Forestieri after the match and the Owls star denied being racist, and apologised if the defender had "misheard".

Giving evidence, Mr Forestieri also denied using any racist terms.

He said: "No, I never said that, I'm not like that. I was very sad because I'm not a racist. The first rule in football is to respect your colleagues."

Mr Forestieri was banned for three games and fined £25,000 as a result of the brawl.

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twitter Dan Hayes @dhayes_news
Health reporter @SheffieldStar, daniel.hayes@jpimedia.co.uk

I’m here at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court to see Sheffield Wednesday forward Fernando Forestieri stand trial for his role in a brawl following a pre-season friendly.
9:43 AM - 28 Mar 2019 from Mansfield

Forestieri, 28, of Chambers Grove, Chapeltown, denied using threatening words and behaviour, and racially aggravated harassment, when he appeared before the same court earlier this year.

The offences were alleged to have taken place on July 24, last year, and relate to a brawl following a friendly match with Mansfield Town. Forestieri failed to attend Mansfield Magistrates’ Court, on Friday, December 28. He was given unconditional bail until the trial on March 28

Mr Forestieri will be hearing and giving evidence via an interpreter, I understand.

Witnesses include Lee Bullen, Atdhe Nuhiu and Nicky Weaver for the defence and Krystian Pearce, David Flitcroft and John Brooks for the prosecution.

Mr Forestieri’s trial is scheduled to last for a full day and I’ll be here throughout.

Court has adjourned for a short time while defence and prosecution lawyers discuss new evidence from What’s App communications between Krystian Pearce and his brother that had not previously been seen by the defence.

In an opening statement the prosecution alleges Fernando Forestieri used the words ‘nigger’ and ‘shit’ and a heated exchange with a Mansfield Town player in the 80th minute of the match.

Krystian Pearce is called to the stand to give evidence for the prosecution.

Krystian Pearce has now finished his evidence. Says argument developed between him and Forestieri on the pitch which escated when FF spoke to him in Spanish using the English words ‘nigger’ and ‘shit’.

Defence counsel says he is mistaken about hearing those words and attempts to call into question KP’s credibility as a witness. Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft now giving evidence.

He says he noticed KP’s ‘focus changed’ and it was not an on the ball incident. He became aware the problem was with KP and FF and was told by the fourth official that there had been an alleged ‘racist incident’.

DF says he entered the field of play and later took KP off the pitch to ‘protect him’. DF now being questioned by defence. He says KP told him he had been called a ‘nigger’ when he went on the pitch.

The referee for the match in question John Brooks now being called to the stand.

Confirms the match was largely uneventful and peaceful until the 88th minute at which point KP told him he had been racially abused and was visibly distressed. He then told the fourth official and there was later a mass brawl after the game finished.

Under questioning from the defence referee confirms he did not hear the racial abuse and that he later booked FF for a bad challenge and KP for aggressive behaviour.

Said he went into the changing rooms after the game and spoke with KP. He said he told him that FF has said some words in Spanish but definitely the word ‘n*****’. He says he wasn’t aware that KP had gone into the Wednesday changing room after the game to speak with FF.

Judge asks referee to confirm that the match only descended into violence after the report of racial abuse. ‘That is correct’ he says.

Police officer who was made aware of the allegation of racial abuse and sent the case to the CPS is now giving evidence. He said in the course of the investigation he spoke initially to the referee, KP and DF, but not any of the other players or fans.

Defence counsel suggesting the fact the officer didn’t speak to other players or fans renders the investigation inadequate. Police officer says he finds the suggestion ‘offensive’.

A statement by Fernando Forestieri has been read out in court. He said he ‘swears on his son’s life’ he did not say anything racist, just words in Spanish that were not racist.

He said he wanted to confirm that he was not a racist person. I never said the ‘N’ word or anything else racist as Mr Pearce alleges and I find the allegation ‘deeply upsetting and very offensive’.

The court had been adjourned for 10 minutes after which Mr Forestieri will be called to give evidence.

Says he only became aware of the allegation of racist abuse after the game in the changing room. He said he thought we were just exchanging words like you would in any game. I was happy to meet him after the game and said it had just been a misunderstanding.

I said to him that if that is what you heard I am really, really sorry. I said look around the room, are there not people of colour.

FF says the Spanish phrase he said referred to Mr Pearce’s mother. He said he understands it is bad but that it is a normal thing to say on a football pitch. Denies the ‘N’ word was inserted into the phrase in question.

The Spanish phrase Mr Forestieri claims he said is ‘la concha de tu madre’ which I believe translates as ‘f*** you, your mother’s c***’.

Prosecution counsel now asking FF which of the words he used could have been mistaken for the ‘n’ word by Mr Pearce. FF says he didn’t know but again denies using the word. Says when he says bad words in Spanish he doesn’t mix them with English as they don’t come.

FF asked if he knew how offensive the ‘n’ word was to black people. He says it just isn’t a word he uses and he didn’t even know how to pronounce it as his English is not good.

FF says in South America there is not much racism so you would not use nigger or negro in Spanish as a derogatory term. Some people might use the word monkey but normally insults are about people’s mothers.

Atdhe Nuhiu now being called to the stand to give evident for the defence.

Says he wasn’t aware of any suggestion of a racist incident during the game. Says he has never even heard FF swear and certainly never heard him use a racist insult.

In the meeting after the game, AN says FF repeatedly denied using the ‘n’ word and says he only spoke in Spanish.

Nicky Weaver now being called to give evidence.

He said he has never known FF to be racist in any way. If it had become aware of anything like that he would not have been happy about it but the situation has never occurred.

NW says David Flitcroft told him three times that FF has called KP a ‘black c***’. He was later told that the allegation was that he FF had called KP a ‘n*****’. FF was adamant in the meeting after the game that he had only used Spanish swear words.

KP wanted an apology but FF said he would not apologise for being racist as he hadn’t been. There was some form of apology and a hand shake and I thought it was the end of the matter, says NW.

Lee Bullen now being called the the stand.

Says FF was ‘visibly upset’ after being made aware of the accusations of racism. Says he knows FF well enough and ‘in my opinion there is no way he said that’.

Prosecution sums up by saying he accepts FF is not racist but that in the heat of the moment sadly used the colour of the opposing captain’s skin to get back at him. Adds it is difficult to believe that he could have been mistaken about it.

Defence responds by saying the stadium was loud and what was said could easily have been misheard or misinterpreted. Says FF acknowledges he swore but the reality is he never used the ‘n’ word.

She added character witnesses confirm the absence of any racist incidents beforehand and says the judge is being asked to determine innocence or guilt on the basis of one word which is simply wrong.

The court had now adjourned for lunch and will resume again at 2.15.

Forestieri NOT GUILTY.

Judge said he could not be satisfied to a criminal standard that Mr Forestieri had said the offending word although he said he believed Mr Pearce was ‘unlikely’ to have been mistaken about hearing it.

He said he was satisfied that both the complainant and alleged victim had provided ‘clear and consistent’ evidence of what had happened at the end and after last year’s pre-season friendly.

But he said in the absence of any corroborating evidence the prosecution had not met the burden of proof required of them. After the verdict Mr Forestieri shared an emotional embrace with his girlfriend in the court.

Mr Forestieri walked straight past a gaggle of reporters assembled outside the court saying he had no further comments to make. For a full report see http://www.thestar.co.uk later.

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LATER STORY:

The Observer Sunday 31 March 2019
Football’s double jeopardy will take Forestieri racism case into extra time
By Daniel Taylor @DTguardian

As John Terry knows, acquittal in a court of law on the basis of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ does not mean the FA will not take action on the balance of probabilities

It is coming up for seven years now since John Terry found himself in the dock of Westminster magistrates court on charges of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and, though I could never say sitting through that week-long trial was a particularly fulfilling experience, there is one memory that offers some light relief amid all the other numbing details.

It goes back to the penultimate day, when Terry was being taken through some of the evidence related to his exchange of words with Ferdinand, then of QPR, and having to repeat some of it for the benefit of the court. Terry was obediently following the instructions, albeit not looking absolutely sure what purpose it served, until he was asked to let the court know the number of times he had been sent off throughout his Chelsea career.

“Can you say - please - four times?” asked his QC, George Carter-Stephenson. At which point Terry nodded again. “Please ... please ... please ... please.” And even now, all these years on, I am still not absolutely sure he understood why the courtroom was filled with awkward laughter.

OK, it is not exactly something Ferdinand will remember too fondly after a trial that tested even this newspaper’s policy of opting not to pebbledash its pages with asterisks. It is not often an incident from a professional football match ends up in criminal proceedings and, as we have been reminded in the case of Sheffield Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri, it is not straightforward getting a successful prosecution.

Terry got off despite admitting that he shouted the words “fucking black cunt” towards Ferdinand (or “fucking black cunt?” with an all-important question mark, his defence argued, claiming it was Terry’s shocked response to Ferdinand accusing him of uttering those words).

Forestieri has also been acquitted and, again, his trial threw up some unexpected angles bearing in mind one of the main arguments put forward on his behalf was that the player making the allegations must have misheard because the crowd was so noisy. The crowd, for the record, was 3,599, for the relevant pre-season friendly at what we are supposed to call the One Call Stadium these days. Or as you and I probably know it: Field Mill. Which, certainly from my experience, is hardly the Ali Sami Yen, decibels-wise.

The player in question is Krystian Pearce, the captain of Mansfield Town, who alleges he was called a “nigger” and was so infuriated by what he heard that a few minutes later, in the first of two confrontations between the different sets of players (the second of which involved 40 people, with coaches and staff also piling in), his manager, David Flitcroft, felt it necessary to go all the way to the centre circle to escort him off the pitch.

As is the protocol, Pearce had reported what he heard to the referee, John Brooks, who, in turn, had informed the fourth official, David Plowright. Flitcroft had been told, therefore, there had been an alleged racial slur even before a wild foul by Forestieri on another player instigated the first confrontation. Pearce, according to Flitcroft, was visibly upset, eyes glazed over, in a way the manager had never seen before. So upset, in fact, that when Pearce did finally compose himself after the game the player went into the opposition dressing room, alone, to ask Forestieri to apologise and admit what he had done. Forestieri denied it and Pearce, still enraged, sent a message later that evening to a WhatsApp group comprising his two brothers and some close friends: “If anyone ever sees Forestieri swing on him immediately.”

What Pearce could not provide for the court was a witness who had heard the exchange. His row with Forestieri was not in anybody else’s earshot. Forestieri was not short of defence witnesses - the Sheffield Wednesday assistant manager, Lee Bullen, the goalkeeping coach, Nicky Weaver, and the club’s Kosovo striker, Atdhe Nuhiu - and told the court the insults were directed, in Spanish, at his opponent’s mother (“la concha de tu madre”) rather than the colour of his skin.

In other words, it boiled down to one man’s word against another and, on that basis, nobody should be surprised it ended as it did: not guilty. Even though - and this bit is important - the district judge, Jonathan Taffe, made it clear in his conclusion that he was not certain whatsoever that Pearce had, as suggested, misheard. “It is possible, albeit in my judgment unlikely,” Taffe said. Yet the fact it was possible meant he could not be satisfied “to a criminal standard” that the offending word was used.

And fair enough: Forestieri’s version of events, like Pearce’s, was described as “clear and consistent”. It would have been difficult for any court to convict him without any corroborative evidence and, as Forestieri has subsequently pointed out, the question should probably be asked of the Crown Prosecution Service why it charged him when the judicial system requires cases to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

That is the difference with the Football Association’s disciplinary system, which determines cases on the balance of probabilities and, as such, has a much wider scope to rule in favour of the player making the allegations.

All of which explains why the FA’s case against Sophie Jones, the Sheffield United Women’s player, for allegedly making monkey noises at Tottenham’s Renee Hector was found proven when the reality is there would be very little chance, with none of the other players hearing the same, that a criminal court would have had enough evidence to find her guilty. Jones accused the FA of putting together a “kangaroo court” and said she was so disgusted by the verdict and five-match suspension she was quitting the sport for good.

Unfortunately for Forestieri, who was born in Argentina to Italian parents and moved to Genoa at the age of 16, that is just the way the sport operates and, as Terry can testify, being innocent in the eyes of the law does not mean the football authorities will be so obliging. Terry’s supporters might have popped open a bottle of pink Cava in the public gallery to celebrate his acquittal but he was charged by the FA within two weeks, then banned for four matches and fined £220,000. The minimum punishment now is five games and, if Forestieri doesn’t know it already, he will soon become aware that the FA is already in contact with Nottinghamshire police with a view to putting together its own case against him. Forestieri has already been banned for three games because of his part in the brawl. But this is far from over.

Is the system fair? That is the really divisive issue here but, in fairness to the FA, it is duty-bound to investigate - and if, as expected, it does lead to Forestieri facing another disciplinary hearing the relevant panel will at least possess a greater understanding of the sport than was demonstrated during his appearance at Mansfield magistrates court.

There were certainly some strange moments if you consider that at one point the police officer in charge of the investigation was grilled about his reasons for not putting out an advertisement, presumably in the local paper, asking to speak to members of the crowd. Though that wasn’t quite as perplexing as the questions that were put to Brooks when the referee gave evidence from the witness box about the events leading to Pearce, who was booked for pushing Forestieri, being taken off the pitch.

The issue, of course, was finding out what had upset him so badly. Lisa Judge, defending Forestieri, referred to the booking and asked Brooks to confirm that yellow cards, totted up, could be damaging for a footballer, in terms of suspensions and damaging the prospects of future moves. Which was an interesting line to take at any time - but especially relating to a pre-season fixture when yellow cards had no relevance.

As for Forestieri, one of the other oddities was that he told the court via his interpreter that he could not speak good English but, judging by his own account of what was said, appeared to have a reasonable grasp of the language, after all.

Pearce, he said, had accused him of diving to try to win a penalty and then fouled him without a free-kick being awarded. Forestieri admitted swearing at his opponent and, at that stage, that their argument was in English. Mansfield were winning 2-1 and, according to Forestieri, Pearce’s response was to offer to sign an autograph for the Championship player at the end of the game. Pearce then made a mess of an attempted clearance and Forestieri claimed to have told him: “Why would I want your autograph when your left foot is so shit?”

At which point you may recall that Terry’s flare-up with Ferdinand also started with two players arguing over a penalty, swapping insults and then something as trivial and daft as Terry pretending his opponent had stinky breath, wafting his hand in front of his nose and putting on a look of feigned disgust, as if someone at the back of the class had let off a stink-bomb. Terry described himself during that trial as “the victim - stitched up good and proper” and Forestieri left the same impression. Now he should probably expect an announcement from FA headquarters to confirm there is still another twist to this story.

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Sheffield Wednesday star Fernando Forestieri may face further action from the Football Association
Sheffield Star, by DOM HOWSON, Monday 1 April 2019

Fernando Forestieri could face further sanctions from the Football Association over allegations that he racially abused Mansfield Town's Krystian Pearce during a pre-season friendly, it has emerged. The Wednesday forward denied calling Pearce a "n*****" in the July 24 warm-up match at the One Call Stadium and was acquitted of racially aggravated harassment at Mansfield Magistrates' Court last week.

Read more at: https://www.thestar.co.uk/sport/football/sheffield-wednesday/latest-owls-news/sheffield-wednesday-star-fernando-forestieri-may-face-further-action-from-the-football-association-1-9685533

But The Star understands the FA have resumed their investigation into the case following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. If Forestieri is found guilty by the football authorities, the minimum punishment is a five-match suspension and a possible fine. Argentinian-born Forestieri, who returned to action in Saturday's goalless draw at Stoke City, has already served a three-match ban and been fined £25,000 for the part he played in the pre-season friendly brawl. He sat-out their Championship fixtures against Stoke City, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa.

During his trial, the 29-year-old "swore on his son's life" he did not racially abuse Pearce. The striker, who joined the Owls in August 2015 in a £3m deal from Watford, was accused of making the remark after he was booked for a foul on Hayden White just after the 80th minute. Pearce confronted Forestieri after the match and the Wednesday star denied using any racist terms. Speaking to the club's website last week, Forestieri said: “I am not a person or player who is racist or who tries to say offensive things to my colleagues. The first rule in football, and in life, is respect. This is how your mum teaches you, it’s about respect in life. It doesn’t matter about your religion or the country you come from, you need to respect. “When I was accused of that, I feel so bad to my mum and dad because it looks like I don’t have manners. And the first thing my mum taught me was to have respect for other people."

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