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Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008

PREMIER REPORT

Drogba case: Punish the perpetrator not the victim


LONDON — The thug from the section where Burnley fans were seated who threw the coin which struck Chelsea striker Didier Drogba will probably never be arrested and charged.

Christopher Davies

Closed circuit television can only see so much, but I find it impossible to believe that at least one supporter is not aware of the coin thrower's identity.

Can you really be stood next to or particularly behind someone whose arm goes backward and tosses something toward the field of play and not be aware of their actions?

No.

In some respects not reporting anybody who has broken he law in this way is as bad as the initial crime.

A player, someone in the technical area, a match official or another fan could be killed by a coin or an object thrown from distance. Failing to tell the police or stewards what you have seen is to condone the action of a mindless moron.

For his part, Drogba faces sanctions from the Football Association and the police for ill-advisedly tossing the coin, thrown at him as he celebrated his first goal of the season, back at the crowd. It is believed the coin did not hit anyone.

Drogba issued an apology after the game and, while a professional earning a vast sum of money should know better than to retaliate in this manner, there can be an element of understanding for a spur-of-the-moment reaction by the victim.

He also made a single-finger gesture at the Burnley fans for which referee Keith Stroud cautioned the Cote d'Ivoire international.

The sad fact of life on Planet Football is that players can be abused by often vile chants and the police are powerless. When hundreds of people swear nothing can be done because there are too many for the police to deal with.

A player reacts and the authorities step in.

Rightly or wrongly there are different laws for those who watch football and those who play it.

Drogba had been the victim of some unsavory comments and chanting from Burnley fans but answered them back in the best way possible by scoring a goal. He went a step too far by returning the coin and gesturing, but the real culprit is whoever tossed the object at Drogba in the first place.

And someone, somewhere knows who that is.

* * * * *

YOU WOULD THINK it is impossible that anyone would publicly associate themselves with a person who killed two youngsters in a drunk driving crash.

Wrong.

Not on Planet Football.

Luke McCormick, the former Plymouth goalkeeper, is currently serving seven years in prison for causing the death of two boys (ages 8 and 10).

When David Norris scored Ipswich's winner against Blackpool last weekend he crossed his wrists handcuff style — Norris played with McCormick at Plymouth and McCormick was driving home from his then-teammate's wedding when the fatal incident happened.

Norris started off by denying it was a handcuff gesture, claiming it was "a private message" but he did not specify what the private message was or to whom it was directed.

The Ipswich player apologized that his gesture could have been misinterpreted — what did he believe people would think?

That he was playing a public game of naughts and crosses?

And isn't a private message in public a contradiction of terms?

Norris hardly helped his cause by two contradictory explanations.

Initially he said: "I would like to stress that I made no handcuff gesture or personal message to Luke McCormick."

A day is a long time in football and 24 hours later, the wording had been changed to: "I would like to stress that I made no handcuff gesture, but it was a small private gesture to Luke McCormick that was not meant to cause offense to anyone."

That clears that up then.

Not.

Ipswich fined Norris for being insensitive to the possible interpretation the gesture may create and insisted the midfielder wrote a letter of regret to the parents of the boys whose lives have been ruined by McCormick.

It was obviously a premeditated gesture. Norris had thought about what he would do if he scored, yet it did not occur to him that it could perhaps be the most crass of celebrations.

Did Norris think that it would help McCormick's time in jail pass quicker?

Or that McCormick would go around his prison and show his inmates how his pals on the outside are rallying around him despite causing the death of two children?

I am constantly amazed and disappointed how players celebrate these days.

The ultimate joy of football should be to score a goal. Look how fans in the stadium celebrate or how you react at home when your team scores.

Why do players celebrate goals without happiness?

More specifically, dedicating goals to people in jail.

* * * * *

WAYNE ROONEY missed an open goal from 10 meters in Manchester United's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal last Saturday. In the same match, Cristiano Ronaldo was similarly wasteful from close range.

A few weeks ago, Chelsea striker Nicola Anelka seemed to fall over his feet two meters from the United goal when the Premier League champions played at Stamford Bridge.

Paul Jewell was sacked by Sheffield Wednesday in February 2001 with the club struggling near the foot of League One. As manager of Derby it took Jewell 10 months to record his first league win.

Dave Jones was manager of Wolves when they were relegated to the Championship in 2004.

No one would ridicule Rooney, Ronaldo or Anelka on the basis on one human error. Jewell and Jones rightly remain respected managers despite the blots on their resume, yet they are two of many serial critics of referees after their teams have lost.

Only officials make mistakes worthy of public ridicule.

Christopher Davies covers the Premier League for the London Daily Telegraph.


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