Chelsea's Diego Costa has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for his controversial behaviour during the club's 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Everton on 12 March. The notoriously feisty striker became embroiled in a running battle with Gareth Barry throughout the quarter-final tie on Merseyside and was eventually dismissed by referee Michael Oliver for two bookable offences.
Costa's second caution, which led to his first red card in English football since a £32m ($48.5m) transfer from Atletico Madrid in July 2014, came six minutes from time. The Spanish international angrily confronted Barry following a foul near the halfway line, thrusting his head forward and initially appearing to attempt to bite his opponent on the neck before thinking better of it and ending their furious embrace on a more amicable note.
The Everton midfielder has since stressed that he was not bitten, although Costa has still not escaped scrutiny for his heated actions and will also have to speak to the FA over allegations that he directed an obscene hand gesture towards a section of the Goodison Park crowd while leaving the pitch at half-time.
"Diego Costa has been charged in relation to Chelsea's FA Cup sixth round fixture against Everton on Saturday 12 March 2016," an official statement confirmed. "It is alleged his behaviour, after being shown a second yellow card in the game, amounted to improper conduct.
"He has until 6pm on Thursday 17 March 2016 to respond to the charge. Meanwhile, the Chelsea striker has until Wednesday [16 March 2016] to provide his observations to The FA in relation to an alleged gesture he made towards Everton supporters while leaving the pitch at half-time."
Following his red card, a Chelsea spokesman commented on behalf of Costa: "Diego spoke to club officials after the game and expressed regret over his reaction to the challenge from Gareth Barry that led to his red card, but Diego was also very clear that he did not bite him at any point during that altercation."
The 27-year-old has already been in hot water with the FA this season, having been handed a retrospective three-match suspension after being found guilty of violent conduct relating to an altercation with Laurent Koscielny during a 2-0 win over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in September.