- Liverpool youngster Suso handed $16,000 fine by the English Football Association
- Spaniard called teammate Jose Enrique 'gay' on social networking site Twitter
- FA charge 19-year-old with improper conduct and warn him about future behavior
- Enrique dismisses the exchange as just 'banter' on his own Twitter page
Liverpool youngster Suso has been fined $16,000 by the English Football Association (FA) after calling a teammate "gay" for getting his teeth whitened.
The 19-year-old reacted to a photo that colleague Jose Enrique had posted on social networking site Twitter that showed him having treatment on his teeth.
He posted: "What f*** is he doing? This guy is gay... he does everything except play football."
Suso later deleted the tweet and has subsequently apologized.
Enrique defended his teammate after news of the fine emerged, saying it was just "banter".
"'Is amazing how fa can fine my friend @suso30fernandez for a banter thing. Was just a joke!" Enrique posted on his own Twitter site.
Suso, who has made 13 appearances for Liverpool this season, has also been warned about his future conduct by the FA.
A statement on their website read: "Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing Liverpool's Jesus Fernandez Saez (Suso) has been fined £10,000 and warned as to his future conduct for a comment posted on Twitter.
"The charge, which the player admitted and requested a paper hearing, was that he acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute in that the comment was posted on his Twitter account and included a reference to a person/s sexual orientation and/or disability."
The sanctions meted out to Suso were welcomed by the Gay Football Supporters Network, but their chair Chris Basiurski said in a statement he thought the fine should go towards the fight against discrimination.
"We hope that it will continue to be a warning to people in the game that homophobic comments are not an acceptable form of banter and that people should take greater care when using social media.
"However, in a time where resources to fight discrimination in football are limited, we would like to see the monies received by The FA in fines reinvested in the fight against homophobia.
"Not only would it serve as an appropriate punishment for offences, but also provide a positive outcome, with the fines used to fund some of the important initiatives needed in the game to spread the inclusive message."
Suso apologized on Twitter after the FA's verdict. He said: "I'm very sorry if anyone has been offended by my comments about the photo of my team-mate Jose Enrique.
"It was only a joke between the two of us. I realize that my words were unfortunate and it was not my intention to offend anyone. I apologize again if anyone was offended."