United claim Evra was called 'immigrant' in Chelsea scuffle

Manchester United's statements to the Football Association on the Stamford Bridge fracas between their players and members of Chelsea's ground staff will detail allegations that Patrice Evra was racially abused.

It is understood that the United players warming down with Evra heard the words "you're just a fucking immigrant" said to the French left-back. Chelsea's position is that the ground staff were misheard and the actual words used were "you're just a fucking idiot".

United will not begin interviewing the players involved until tomorrow, once tonight's Champions League semi-final second leg with Barcelona is out of the way. The difference of opinion between the two clubs explains the failure of the respective chief executives, United's David Gill and Chelsea's Peter Kenyon, to agree a joint statement on Sunday.

United's players insisted from the start that a racist comment was the cause of the fracas. Sources close to Evra asserted this early on Sunday and that position was supported by the striker Carlos Tevez, who said he had "never seen anything like this in my two years in England".

But after a telephone conversation between Kenyon, who is currently in India, and Gill, United distanced themselves from the players' allegations. Kenyon is believed to have called Gill the moment he learned that United were claiming racist taunts had been the reason for the scuffle. Fuller inquiries with Evra and his team-mates have now hardened United's position – though Kenyon, a former United chief executive, and Chelsea, refute that.

As the FA sought all available footage on the incident from Chelsea's CCTV cameras, Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday underlined his club's confidence in their position over the clash with Sam Bethell, a member of Chelsea's ground staff who is understood to have denied the allegation.

Of the club's initial report on the incident, Ferguson said: "We are filing a report which will be sent to the FA. We are very happy with that, we are delighted with that. We hope the FA investigates it."

Ferguson could not resist a quip about the scuffle, which occurred after ground staff asked seven United players – Evra, Tevez, Park Ji Sung, Gary Neville, John O'Shea, Gerard Pique and Paul Scholes – to move so they could cut the grass. "Are you not supposed to cut it [the grass] before the game?" Ferguson said. "There's a good question for you."

Both clubs have been asked to supply the FA with statements. United have already submitted an interim report. The fracas started when a senior member of stadium staff asked the United players to leave the goalmouth, which was being worked on by the ground staff , and run further out on the 18-yard line. Neville insisted on their right to warm down. One player reportedly said, "We'll run where we like."

The clubs disagree about who – Evra or Bethell – threw the first punch. Chelsea have yet to comment but Pique said: "Patrice wanted an explanation but these men were very aggressive. All we were doing was finishing our workout after the game."

On a day of negative headlines – Rio Ferdinand's kick at a wall hit a female steward instead, and United lost of course – Ferguson defended his squad. "I trust these players," he said. "Their attitude and character is absolutely fantastic. I have pride in them representing me and the club."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat