Hughton slams Burnley supporters who booed Bong in wake of racism row

Chris Hughton. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Chris Hughton. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Brighton boss Chris Hughton hit out at the Burnley supporters who booed Albion left-back Gaetan Bong during this afternoon's 0-0 draw at Turf Moor.

Bong was booed every time he touched the ball by the home fans, after Bong accused Burnley-born Jay Rodriguez, who made more than 100 appearances for the Clarets, of racially abusing him during the Seagulls' 2-0 defeat at West Brom in January.

The accusation was found to be 'not proven' by the FA earlier this month.

Hughton said: "Firstly, I would have to say I thought the reaction of the Burnley supporters towards Gaetan every time he got the ball was shameful, I really do.

"What they should do, the Burnley supporters, is look at the two statements which came out afterwards. One from the independent committee and one from the FA.

"I thought their reaction towards Gaetan Bong was shameful.

"As regards his performance, it was nothing short of what I expect from Gaetan. He's an excellent professional and a top-class individual.

"In a game like today, which was a very tough game, I thought he put in a performance which he has done all season. He had a lot of discipline, knowing he was going to have to defend very well."

Asked if had spoken to Bong during half-time about the Burnley supporters' reaction, Hughton said: "He's an incredibly disciplined and straight individual, as honest a person as you would meet.

"It's something that happened, it's not nice at all but he's big and strong enough to be able to cope with it - as showed by his performance.

"I was incredibly surprised, I must admit. I certainly didn't expect it here."

The FA found after a hearing that Rodriguez was not proven to have used discriminatory language against Bong but part of the statement read: "The FA wishes to stress that there has been no suggestion by any party involved in this case that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint. The FA is completely satisfied that this was a complaint made in absolute good faith."

Rodriguez then released a statement saying: "Now that I have been cleared, I would like to emphasise so there can be no doubt that I did not utter the words of which I was accused. I did not use any language that alluded to race and I can only repeat my view that Gaeten misheard out exchange during the game."

Bong in a statement released by Brighton responded: "Please let me be clear: I know what I heard and I did not mishear. My conscience in raising the complaint is therefore entirely clear."

Keep up with all the top football news and transfer gossip from England, Scotland and beyond with footballwire.co.uk