Granted fans give players considerable amount of stick each and every week from the terraces, but when the fans themselves are paying money to come watch their favourite team, and when the players themselves are receiving untold riches for the right to play the beautiful game, it is no surprise that some people are going to complain that the performance isn’t up to their exacting standards.
Birmingham’s Lee Bowyer is the play who is at the centre of the latest incident and this time surprisingly (or unsurprisingly however you want to look at it with Bowyers past record) the abuse was directed towards a 72 year old grandmother.
Sandra Cox attended the game with her seven year old grandson and was subjected to the abuse after an incident on the pitch which saw Bowyer luckily escape with just a yellow card after a dangerous tackle on West Brom’s Gabriel Tamas, resulting in manager Alex McLeish immediately substituting the former Newcastle man.
As Bowyer left the field he received a large amount of criticism from a number of the fans, as many players do from the opposition following. However, rather than take it as a professional, Bowyer proceeded to go up to the grandmother and call her a “F****** C***” an incident which left many people in the family enclosure at the Hawthorns in dismayed and appalled by what they have just heard.
The 33 year old has had very much a checkered past with a number of clubs. At Charlton the player received large criticism for failing a drugs test after taking cannabis, this was then followed by a heavily publicised assault allegation with a number of players during his time at Leeds and the infamous fight on the pitch with fellow team mate Kieron Dyer during his spell at Newcastle.
However, the actions of Lee Bowyer and his conduct towards fans are far and away from an isolated incident. Since the inception of the Premier League, we have seen numerous incidents which have involved members of the public being subjected to physical and verbal abuse at the hands of their favourite stars.
Eric Cantona – Probably the most highly publicised and widely remembered incident in the Premier League as the Manchester United striker proceeded to almost kung fu kick a Crystal Palace fan during a league encounter after receiving abuse from the home support for a red card challenge on Richard Shaw.
Even to this day Cantona shows no remorse over the event claiming it was “not hitting him hard” even though the Frenchman almost receive a prison sentence for his actions. However, the impact of this incident some 15 years ago seemed to set a trend for the actions of some players which were to follow.
El-Hadji Diouf – Has become known as one of the bad boys of the Premier League after a number of incidents during his time at both Bolton and Liverpool which saw the Senegalese player spit at a number of fans. The incidents came at away games to both Celtic and Middlesbrough, both incidents were investigated by the respective police forces, resulting in the 29 year old receiving a £5,000 fine.
Joey Barton – Whether your a player of a fan you can’t escape the wrath of Joey Barton, as we have seen with numerous incidents involving, the public, first team players and youth players. In 2008 Barton was sentenced to 6 months in prison for common assault and affray after he attacked a member of the public outside MacDonalds on a night out in Liverpool.
His actions were completely unbecoming of a civilised member of the society, let alone a professional top flight football, leaving the player as one of the most hated in the Premier League.
Rio Ferdinand – The incident involving the England international is one which is remembered not for aggravated violence, but more for just down right stupidity. Unhappy with a decision given against United in their game against Blackburn in 2007, Ferdinand furiously kicked the ball wildly out of play. Rather than hitting the hoarding, as it would seem he intended, the ball hit a member of the United support, striking her on the head.
Ferdinand quickly apologised for the incident and it is believed that the former Leeds defender met with the fan after the game and gave her his shirt as a token of apology.
While there have been just as many incidents, if not more, involving members of the public attacking sports stars, the incidents highlighted are ones which we hope will not be a regular occurence within the game. Not only does it ruin the whole spectacle that is the Premier League, it damages the ‘role model’ image with a number of football’s brightest stars should be setting for the younger fans.
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