Manchester United centre-back Jonny Evans on Thursday rejected allegations that he spat at Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse, who issued an apology over his role in the incident.
“Having woken up this morning I am shocked to have seen the media coverage from last night’s match,” Evans said in a statement on the United website.
“I would like to make it clear that I did not spit at Papiss Cisse.”
Senegalese striker Cisse apologised to his team-mates and Newcastle supporters, to Evans and to “every football fan” who saw the incident, saying he had “let down” his club’s young fans.
The incident occurred during the first half of United’s Premier League victory at St James’ Park on Wednesday and followed a tangle between the players near the halfway line.
As the pair climbed to their feet, Evans seemed to spit towards the ground and Cisse appeared to react by spitting at the United defender’s neck. Referee Anthony Taylor spoke to both players afterwards, but did not book either of them.
The Football Association has said it will wait for Taylor’s report before deciding whether to take action. The two players could each face six-game bans if found guilty of spitting under new disciplinary guidelines brought in by the FA this season.
Johnny Evans and Cisse both spit. Not cool guys! pic.twitter.com/q2IjqGjkhG
— Sam Cross (@SamDCross) March 4, 2015
Evans added: “I was totally unaware of any spitting incident and had assumed that the issue at the time was with the challenge and his attempted retaliation to the tackle from the floor.
“During the game Papiss Cisse and I spoke about the incident and it is clear by my reaction in the television footage that I was totally surprised by any suggestion of spitting.
“It is not in my character or in my nature to spit at anybody, nor is it something I have ever done or would ever do. It is certainly not something that I did last night.”
In a statement published on the Newcastle website, Cisse said: “I have apologies to make to a lot of people today. Firstly to my teammates and to our supporters, secondly to Jonny Evans, and thirdly to every football fan who saw the incident between myself and Jonny.
“I reacted to something I found very unpleasant. Sometimes it is hard not to react, particularly in the heat of the moment. I have always tried hard to be positive a role model, especially for our young fans, and yesterday I let you down.
“I hope children out there playing football for their clubs and schools this weekend will know better than to retaliate when they are angry. Perhaps when they see the problem it now causes me and my team they will be able to learn from my mistake, not copy it.”