Rio Ferdinand said what needed to be said about the Firmino-Holgate incident

The FA’s investigation into Mason Holgate and Roberto Firmino’s racism dispute is about to enter its third week.

The governing body are looking into claims that Firmino racially abused Holgate during Liverpool’s FA Cup victory over Everton on January 5.

Liverpool’s number 9 reacted angrily when Holgate pushed him over the advertising hoardings, approaching the Everton defender before referee Bobby Madley, with the help of teammates, separated them.

It was in this fleeting coming together that Firmino is accused of racially abusing the 21-year-old.

The FA released a statement earlier in the month, saying: “The FA can confirm that referee Bobby Madley was made aware of an allegation during the Liverpool versus Everton game at Anfield last night and has subsequently reported this to The FA, which will now begin making enquiries into the matter.”

Two weeks on and the investigation is still ongoing.

It’s clear that football still has a problem with racism – Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster, 17, was abused by Spartak Moscow player Leonid Mironov in a UEFA Youth League match in December – and it was one of the topics explored by BT Sport on Premier League Tonight on Saturday.

Rio Ferdinand spoke passionately on the matter and he was stunned to learn that anti-racism organisations such as Kick It Out are not allowed to contact players or clubs during an investigation into racism.

In Ferdinand’s opinion, organisations must be allowed to offer support to the likes of Holgate and Brewster during what is a really difficult time.

But Ferdinand wants support to be offered to everyone involved – not just the victim of racial abuse – saying campaigners should speak to both Holgate and Firmino to “help and to try and rebuild”.

“That rule there is a shambles really,” Ferdinand said. “More than anything these players need the support and for the FA to say no, you’ve got to leave them be, leave them to their own devices almost, who is there to support these kids?

“Who is there to help them after the situation comes out to light and is in the public domain, because there’s so many different elements that can affect them that are going on.

“How are they going to continue to play football under that stress and that pressure? The clubs can only do so much.

“These organisations are meant to be professionals within these situations. They should be allowed to actually go and help these guys.

“Like I said before, in the Mason Holgate and Firmino situation. I’m not saying they should be going to one and not the other, they should be going to both to help and to try and rebuild.”

He went on: “I’m not saying Mason Holgate is right or wrong, or that Firmino is right or wrong, the powers that be will decide that.

“But, when a case like this comes along, people like Kick It Out, Show Racism The Red Card, the PFA, they need to be the first ones knocking on these boys’ doors for support.”

You can watch the full discussion, which also included Frank Lampard and Steve McLaren, below.