Jay Rodriguez cleared of racially abusing Brighton ace Gaetan Bang after character references from Mauricio Pochettino and Eddie Howe

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was the striker's boss at Southampton, and Bournemouth head coach Eddie Howe both gave character references to support the 28-year-old.

And now the governing body has revealed he has escaped a potential five-match ban after an incident in the Premier League clash between the Baggies and Seagulls in January.

An FA statement said: "A charge of discriminatory misconduct against West Bromwich Albion’s Jay Rodriguez has been found not proven following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing.

"It was alleged that during the game against Brighton & Hove Albion on 13 January 2018, the player used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.

"Rodriguez denied the charge and requested a personal hearing which took place at Wembley Stadium [Wednesday 11 April 2018].

"Having considered all the evidence, the Independent Regulatory Commission determined that on the balance of probabilities the allegation was not proven."

It added: "The FA wishes to stress that there has been no suggestion by any party involved in this case that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint. The FA is completely satisfied that this was a complaint made in absolute good faith.

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"The FA takes all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and continues to encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels.

"The FA would like to express its full thanks to all parties for their full cooperation during the disciplinary process."

Cameroon international alleged Rodriguez said "you're black and you stink" during the row.

Rodriguez has always denied the accusation made against him by Bong since the confrontation at the Hawthorns and insisted he said "your breath stinks" after he was spotted pinching his nose.

Former West Brom boss Alan Pardew also joined the forward at Wembley for his hearing this week.

He was facing a five-match ban if found guilty, but he is now free to play the remainder of the season.

Pochettino and Howe have both manager the £12m Baggies man in the past and were happy to help clear his name.

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