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A must read – The FA release the full written reasons for the judgement in the Jonjo Shelvey hearing

4 years ago

The FA have released the full ‘Written Reasons’ given in the aftermath of the Jonjo Shelvey.

There is a link below to all 11 pages of the statement but we have endeavoured to pick out the most relevant parts here.

(WARNING: Do not read on if you are offended by bad language. The passages below are as they appeared in The FA ruling and detail what was claimed to have been said – the actual words claimed to be used, being at the very heart of the decision.)

The bottom line from the case, after reading the written reasons,  appears to be that those hearing the case believed the evidence of the Wolves players who appeared, namely Dominic Iorfa, Matt Doherty, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Daniel Tanveer Batth. The actual player who the Shelvey comments were aimed at, Romain Saiss, didn’t even hear what was said and so gave no useful evidence.

Jonjo Shelvey of course gave evidence, though the hearing found that the evidence gave by his main witnesses, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle, was little use. Not because they were disbelieved necessarily but because basically Mitrovic heard nothing of any use, whilst Gayle could only support what Shelvey was claiming in a minimal way.

Jonjo Shelvey claims he shouted ‘smelly breathed prick’, whilst the Wolves players insist that the Newcastle player used very different words.

As I say, don’t read on if the words used in the hearing may be offensive to you.

Extracts from the FA Written Reasons from the Jonjo Shelvey misconduct hearing:

‘It is alleged by the FA that shortly after the red card was awarded Mr Shelvey called Mr Saiss an “Arab” or “Arabic” “cunt” and/or “prick.” The FA relies primarily upon the first hand accounts given by WWFC players Mr Iorfa, Mr Doherty and Mr Borthwick-Jackson. Further the FA alleges that Mr Shelvey also used the word “Moroccan” towards Mr Saiss in an abusive and insulting manner although only Mr Doherty heard that word being used. The FA also relies upon the evidence of other witnesses as corroboration of the accounts given by the three players. A number of those witnesses gave evidence at the hearing. It is a feature of this case that Mr Saiss, who was the object of the alleged abusive words, did not hear the alleged words being spoken and neither did the referee.’

‘Mr Shelvey denies that he made any reference to “Arab”, “Arabic” or “Moroccan” during the match. He does accept that he shouted “smelly breathed prick” at Mr Saiss two or three times following what he asserts was someone calling him “a bald cunt.”

‘Mr Shelvey accepted in interview that in a further exchange with Mr Iorfa he called him a “peasant” a number of times. This was a reference to what apparently is known as “cashing someone off.” This is when a player, in this case Mr Shelvey, insults another player by emphasising that he earns substantially more money than that player. In the present case, Mr Shelvey asserts this was in response to Mr Iorfa calling him a “fucking prick.” Mr Iorfa denies this and maintained that it was Mr Shelvey’s reaction to Mr Iorfa asking him what was his problem after Mr Iorfa had heard the words which are the subject of this charge towards Mr Saiss.’

‘Mr Iorfa’s account in his statement went on to say that when Mr Shelvey was standing close to him he said “you Arab prick” and “you Arab cunt.” In his evidence in chief however Mr Iorfa only recalled Mr Shelvey saying “you Arab cunt.”

‘Mr Doherty maintained in his oral evidence that he heard Mr Shelvey say “Moroccan prick” and “Arabic cunt” although he conceded those words could have been in a different order. He said he was “1000%” certain of this. He explained that when he spoke to Mr Iorfa he said “is he allowed to say that?” such was his surprise at the words he heard from Mr Shelvey. Mr Borthwick-Jackson gave evidence that he heard Mr Shelvey call Mr Saiss a “smelly Arab cunt” and said he was “100%” sure of what he heard.’

‘The witnesses were crossexamined at length by Mr Sturman, not on the basis that they were lying or had concocted a story to cause harm to Mr Shelvey but on the basis that they were mistaken in what they believed they heard. As Mr Sturman put it, “they heard what they feared to hear.” Further distilled, it was put to the witnesses that in fact what Mr Shelvey said was “you smelly breathed prick” and they have misheard this as “you Arab prick” or “you Arab cunt.”

‘After the match Mr Iorfa and Mr Doherty immediately informed Rob Edwards, the WWFC first team coach, of what was said and he relayed this to the referee. The notes of the referee, Tim Robinson, and a further statement from him have been adduced although the referee has not been called to give oral evidence. The notes recorded that Mr Iorfa informed him that Mr Shelvey called Mr Saiss a “smelly Arab prick.” This was then relayed by the referee to Rafa Benitez, the manager of NUFC, who after speaking with Mr Shelvey reported back that he disputed this assertion and asserted that the words he used were “smelly breathed prick” in response to Mr Saiss calling him a “bald cunt.”

Conclusion on breach:

‘The Commission have considered all of the evidence adduced by the parties including the written statements, evidence and notes that were read or referred to in the bundle. It is clear that there is a stark difference in the case presented by the FA and that presented on behalf of Mr Shelvey. There are differences in the accounts given by the witnesses on each side. However it must be borne in mind that the incident occurred during a match where there was a large crowd and a significant amount of noise. The immediate incident for the referee to address was the foul and the sending-off. The possibility of mishearing something that was said or not hearing at all something that was said must be taken into account. It is clear that not all of the witnesses heard everything that Mr Shelvey said. For example Mr Gayle only heard once the comment which Mr Shelvey says he used two or three times and Mr Mitrovic did not hear that comment at all.’

‘The Commission is unanimous as to the findings on the facts. Mr Shelvey did know that Mr Saiss had made a card gesture in support of the sending off. This had made Mr Gayle angry, as he said himself he was “pissed off” and Mr Gayle challenged Mr Saiss over the gesture. We find that it is more likely than not, given how annoyed he was, that Mr Gayle told Mr Shelvey of Mr Saiss’s gesture after which Mr Shelvey began to walk back in the direction of Mr Saiss to express his views on the matter. This is consistent with Mr Shelvey’s own description of himself on page 2 of the interview transcript. In “SS4” timed at 0:34 Mr Shelvey clearly made a card gesture with his hand to indicate the reason for his anger with Mr Saiss and we find this was in fact the reason for his anger that he referred to at page 6 of the interview transcript rather than the alleged earlier comment regarding his baldness as to which he gave no immediate reaction. Our finding in this regard gives rise to serious concern as to the credibility of Mr Shelvey and the reliability of his evidence when we come to consider what words he used.’

‘However even without that finding regarding Mr Shelvey’s credibility, the Commission is satisfied that the evidence of the three main witnesses from WWFC is clearly to be preferred. Their evidence was given with conviction and openness. The certainty with which the witnesses gave their account of what they believed they heard was clear and compelling. The Commission has considered whether the three witnesses could have each misheard the use of the word “Arab” by Mr Shelvey and we conclude that this suggestion is unrealistic. The main witnesses called by the FA taken together with the other evidence and records adduced constituted a formidable case which could not be explained on the basis of the simple mishearing of words. The main witnesses were entirely consistent in respect of what was the central issue in the case, namely whether the word Arab or Arabic was used by Mr Shelvey during the course of what was, on any view, an ill-tempered outburst of offensive language by him towards Mr Saiss which the latter clearly did not hear.

‘The witnesses adduced by Mr Shelvey did not really support his defence to any significant degree. Mr Gayle clearly did not hear all that Mr Shelvey had said even on Mr Shelvey’s account. Mr Mitrovic heard even less than Mr Gayle. Clearly evidence that a witness did not hear something being said does not necessarily mean that it was not said. In respect of Mr Gayle’s evidence that he did not tell Mr Shelvey about the card gesture by Mr Saiss we reject that evidence as improbable given his anger at the time and the other evidence referred to above. In our judgment this was the very thing that precipitated the outburst from Mr Shelvey.’

If you want to read the full FA release of the ‘Written Reasons’ go here.


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