FA charges for Evra and Chelsea groundsman

July 18, 2008

Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell have been charged by the Football Association.

The move comes following an exhaustive inquiry into events which occurred at Stamford Bridge immediately after United's defeat to Chelsea on April 26, the hosts winning thanks to a disputed Michael Ballack penalty.

Evra and Bethell were involved in a heated exchange during the visitors' warm-down.

The FA have taken witness statements during their investigations and while Evra and Bethell have both been charged with improper conduct, the Chelsea man has also been accused of using 'abusive language aggravated by reference to nationality/race'.

As a player, the punishments for Evra, if found guilty, range from a fine to a ban.

No date for the hearing has been set and with both clubs on pre-season trips, it may be a while before it is arranged.

'The charges are the result of a thorough investigation conducted by the FA over the last three months,' read an FA statement.

'In bringing the charges, the FA used video evidence, CCTV footage and various witness statements from individuals present.'

United had previously hinted that Evra reacted after suffering a racist taunt, something Chelsea have denied.

However, merely in levelling a charge, the FA have signalled their intent to punish any party guilty of such behaviour.

As expected, Rio Ferdinand has escaped sanction, although he has been warned about his future conduct after accidentally striking a member of the Chelsea staff with a door he kicked in anger as he made his way off the field.

Ferdinand has since apologised and sent the female staff member a bunch of flowers.

There had been some suggestion earlier this week that the England defender was facing a four-match ban that could put his hopes of captaining the Three Lions under new coach Fabio Capello at risk.

However, those worries have proved unfounded and Ferdinand will be available for United's opening Premier League game against Newcastle on August 17.