LONDON - When two English Premier League opponents spat at each other, the television evidence seemed clear.
Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse apologized on Thursday for spitting at Jonny Evans, but the Manchester United defender denied any wrongdoing in the incident.
Video replays showed the pair spitting at each other on Wednesday during United's 2-0 win after Cisse reacted angrily to a tackle by Evans.
After the incident was missed by the referee, a three-man panel of former officials decided on Thursday that both players should be charged. Cisse accepted it, while Evans has until 1800 GMT Friday to respond to the English Football Association.
FIFA rules mandate a minimum six-game ban for spitting incidents, but Cisse faces a possible seven-game ban because he was suspended this season for elbowing Everton's Seamus Coleman.
Before being informed of the charge, Cisse said he had "apologies to make to a lot of people" — his teammates, Evans, and the supporters.
"I reacted to something I found very unpleasant," Cisse said in a statement. "Sometimes it is hard not to react, particularly in the heat of the moment. I have always tried hard to be a positive 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."
Evans is trying to avoid a suspension despite the video evidence.
"I did not spit at Papiss Cisse," Evans said in a statement. "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."