Fan attacked by Cantona denies provocation
Wednesday 01 May 1996
Matthew Simmons was appearing at Croydon Magistrates' Court where he is charged with two counts of using threatening language and behaviour during the match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park, south London, on 25 January 1995.
Millions of television viewers saw United's French striker aim a kung- fu kick at Mr Simmons, who was standing in the crowd, and then throw a punch at him as he made his way to the tunnel after being sent off.
The court was told by prosecution witnesses that Mr Simmons provoked the assault by hurling a torrent of obscene and abusive language at Cantona.
But Mr Simmons, 21, a double-glazing fitter, of Thornton Heath, south London, denied using language which the prosecution says was designed to bait the player. He said: "After Eric Cantona had been sent off I realised that Richard Shaw [a Crystal Palace player], needed treatment and that this was a pause in the game and would give me the chance to go to the toilet. I was casually walking down the stairs and as I got to the bottom of the aisle Eric Cantona was walking along the line. We simultaneously met and the crowd was fairly noisy and everyone was cheering and noisy and pleased that he had been sent off, me included.
"I was shouting 'Off, off, off', and I was pointing towards the dressing room 'cos that's what you do at football games. At no time was I doing anything else than pointing. I did not use any language of this kind. At no stage did I swear and I am quite certain of that.
"As far as I am concerned I was doing nothing wrong to deserve these actions. I was teasing Cantona but there is a big difference between a criminal offence and what you would call banter at a football match."
The magistrates decided that there was a case to answer on both charges, and the trial was adjourned until today.
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Oklahoma tornado latest: At least 91 dead, including 20 children, as massive storm rips through Oklahoma City suburbs, flattening homes, shops, hospitals and schools
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 4 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 5 Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Randstad Education Leicester: Please request a copy...
Negotiable: Orgtel: Change Manager, Hampshire, Telecomms, SC Cleared, £200 per...
£120 - £160 per day + negotiable depending on experience: Randstad Education L...
£180 - £230 per day: Orgtel: Operations Analyst - Leading Bank in the City of ...