Chris Coleman yesterday pleaded with his Fulham players not to allow Luis Boa Morte's dispute with Duncan Ferguson to influence their approach to tonight's FA Cup replay with Everton.
Boa Morte has publicly accused Ferguson of racially abusing him during the 1-1 FA Cup fourth-round tie at Goodison Park. But Fulham were still questioning their players to compile evidence about the incident and have yet to make a formal complaint despite nine days elapsing since the fixture. That delay prompted the Football Association to write to Boa Morte demanding a "full explanation" of the Portuguese striker's claim.
Coleman fears a backlash when the teams meet in the replay at Loftus Road, with the winners earning a home fifth-round tie against West Ham. Ferguson is expected to play and Coleman, when he was asked if Boa Morte would be rested, said: "No. It is more than likely he will play. There are a few dodgy tackles in every game but what's to be gained by anything happening in the Everton match?
"We don't want to see a 15 or 16-man mass brawl with handbags flying everywhere. It's not what we want and it's not what Everton want and I'm sure of that.
"I'll make sure my players are professional and will go about their jobs in the correct manner - and I'm sure David Moyes [the Everton manager] will do the same with his players. It's a football match and not a fight. We will be trying to play football, as will Everton, and let's hope it's played in the correct manner."
This is the latest incident involving the 26-year-old Boa Morte and Everton - a history which Coleman admits has left "bad blood" between the clubs. "It all started off in our first year in the Premiership," Coleman said. "There was an incident and there's been a bit of bad blood in every game since."
A FA spokesman yesterday confirmed: "We have formally written to Luis Boa Morte requesting a full investigation of these allegations."
Fulham, who feel their player was wrongly advised to go public with his claim, have now asked Boa Morte and his advisors not to discuss the matter. Coleman explained: "Luis went public because he's an emotional kind of guy and was so incensed by the incident.
"We'll take our case to the FA. They are eager to deal with it urgently and so are we. And until the FA or the club come to a decision, that's all I can say," Coleman added.
Everton have refused to discuss the alleged racial abuse. Moyes will not comment on Boa Morte's accusations but he will be aware that tonight's game will be a tense affair. Everton's view all along has been that, because they have had no contact from the FA over the situation, they will remain silent. Only if the FA does ask for Everton's version of events will the club consult the player. The Everton chief executive, Mike Dunford, said: "We do not comment on what we see in the media. The FA have not been in contact with us, and that is how it stands."
Ferguson's adviser, Kevin Dooley, has dismissed Boa Morte's claims as "ludicrous", adding: "Anyone who knows Duncan knows he would not get involved. We refute the allegations completely."
Although Ferguson can expect a hostile reception from Fulham fans, there is no love lost between Everton's supporters and Boa Morte either. After the League match between the clubs in West London on 10 January, Boa Morte was charged by the FA with improper conduct over an exchange with fans when it was claimed that a cigarette lighter and match programmes were thrown at him.
Everton have injury concerns regarding Kevin Campbell (back) and Alex Nyarko (neck), but could welcome back David Unsworth after a back injury. If the defender is unable to make his comeback, Alessandro Pistone will continue in the centre of defence.
For Fulham, Lee Clark is out with calf and Achilles injuries while Ian Pearce is cup-tied and the new signing, the American striker Brian McBride, misses out because he is ineligible.Reuse content