Sheffield Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri’s appeal against a Football Association charge of using racist language has been rejected.
The FA’s independent regulatory commission found him guilty of using racist language towards Mansfield Town’s Krystian Pearce in July 2018.
In March, the 29-year-old was acquitted of racially aggravated harassment and using threatening words or behaviour.
The forward will begin a six-game ban with immediate effect.
He was also fined £25,000, warned about his future conduct and ordered to attend face-to-face FA education.
The incident occurred during a pre-season friendly last year and sparked a mass brawl after Pearce’s claims against the Argentina-born Forestieri, a naturalized Italian citizen who has represented Italy Under-21s.
In a statement Sheffield Wednesday said: “The club and the player remain extremely disappointed with the findings of the Regulatory Commission and the Appeal Board when Fernando was acquitted in relation to the same incident in a court of law earlier this year.”
Criminal acquittal v FA conviction
At the time of the FA’s initial findings against him, Forestieri said he was “devastated and disappointed” by the decision.
As there was no corroborating evidence other than Pearce’s testimony and Forestieri’s denial, there was not enough proof to find the forward guilty of a criminal offence.
The trial judge at the time stated that he had “to accept it is possible, albeit it is in my judgment unlikely, that Mr Pearce was mistaken.”
However, the commission felt that while Forestieri was not guilty to the standard needed for a criminal conviction, there was enough evidence for them to find him in breach of their rules.
“The higher standard of proof in criminal proceedings means an acquittal does not necessarily and ordinarily will not equate to a finding that the participant did not commit the misconduct in question,” the full written report into Forestieri’s hearing read.
The commission based their conclusion on a number of factors, including Pearce’s immediate reaction to hearing the alleged offensive term and what the commission felt were inconsistencies over Forestieri’s claims of switching between speaking Spanish and English.
What games will Forestieri miss?
Forestieri’s sanction by the FA in July this year came on the same day as the governing body announced it has increased the minimum ban for anyone found guilty of racial abuse from five to six matches for the forthcoming season.
The forward, who has started one game and been a substitute three times this season, will first miss the Owls’ trip to Huddersfield on Saturday.
Forestieri will be available again for the Championship trip to Cardiff City on Friday, 18 October.