- Associated Press - Saturday, January 6, 2018

The English Football Association is investigating “an allegation” following a confrontation between Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino and Everton defender Mason Holgate during the Merseyside derby in the FA Cup.

Referee Bobby Madley reported the allegation to the FA, “which will now begin making enquiries into the matter,” the governing body said Saturday.

Holgate angrily remonstrated with Madley after being verbally abused by Firmino toward the end of the first half of the third-round match at Anfield on Friday.

Asked after the match whether Holgate accused Firmino of using a racist term, Everton manager Sam Allardyce said: “I’m telling you nothing until whatever systems are used to find out what exactly happened and what didn’t happen.”

Liverpool said late Friday that the club would “fully co-operate with the relevant authorities to ensure the facts are established in a thorough manner.”

Everton hasn’t commented on the issue beyond Allardyce’s remarks.

The incident was sparked by Holgate shoving Firmino into - and over - the advertising boards surrounding the field. The Brazil striker vaulted back onto the playing surface and sprinted toward Holgate, swearing in Portuguese. Madley stepped between them to intervene.

Holgate then became aggrieved, and appeared to complain to Madley. Madley spoke to the fourth official, before play continued.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he thought Madley and the fourth official were discussing whether to take action against Holgate for the original push on Firmino.

Klopp then said: “I had information that something happened … but I can’t say anything about it.”

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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