Fulham to probe racism claim

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The Independent Football

Fulham manager Chris Coleman today backed his striker Luis Boa Morte, who wants the Football Association to investigate alleged racial abuse by Everton striker Duncan Ferguson during last Sunday's FA Cup clash.

The London Evening Standard reports the pair clashed towards the end of the 1-1 draw, with Boa Morte maintaining he was man-handled by the former Scotland striker and was subjected to racist comments.

And boss Coleman said: "We are 100 per cent behind Luis. He is our player and we think a lot of him.

"If he said that happened I am in his corner 100 per cent and I will back him 100 per cent. He isn't going to make up something like that. It's a serious allegation."

Coleman has no hesitation in naming Boa Morte in his squad for tomorrow's home match against Tottenham and intends to play him in next Wednesday's Everton replay at Loftus Road.

Boa Morte is already facing an FA charge of improper conduct towards Everton fans after having a cigarette lighter and programmes thrown at him in the previous match between the clubs in the Barclaycard Premiership match on January 10.

But Coleman said: "He's just not the kind of guy to bring up something like that to cover his back.

"He's an emotional type of player and gets into a bit of trouble on the pitch, for the opposition he's a pain in the neck but if he's on your side you want him in your team."

Despite the furore the manager said: "He has had a good week's training. If he's playing the way he has been then I'll play him."

Coleman, who confirmed that Fulham have not officially complained about the incident to the FA, will have further talks with the club's deputy managing director Lee Hoos to make further investigations into the issue.

He continued: "It is a matter we are taking very seriously but we are dealing with it internally and will go down the correct channels.

"It's a serious allegation and we need to get to the bottom of it.

"We have to talk to the FA to set up a meeting but these things take time. We also need to speak to the players to see if anyone else heard it. Obviously the referee didn't otherwise he would have acted."

Coleman admits the situation is "not ideal" with the Everton replay just five days away - but is hoping it does not spill over into the Loftus Road match.

He added: "There is a chance it will fuel bad feeling but I hope it doesn't. The last thing we want is an incident.

"We just want to get on with the football, hopefully get the right result and hope the fans don't react in the wrong way. I'll make sure my players don't."

But Coleman was critical of the way the matter has been brought into the public domain.

"The last thing we wanted was a trial by media. It isn't ideal it's in the newspapers. I didn't want that to happen but it's out of my hands," he said.

Boa Morte made his accusations in today's London Evening Standard - after the original story appeared in the Daily Mirror and Sun - and Coleman said: "I was trying to persuade him not to talk with anyone else.

"I'm disappointed it's come out and I think he has been badly advised on that. But it's done now. We will still try to go down the right channels but with the FA."

Asked if he had taken that issue up with Boa Morte, Coleman added: "The player knows my feelings."

Everton have declined to comment on the subject.