Fan to face trial after dressing room rant

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The Independent Online

The case against the England fan who berated the players after wandering into the team's dressing room after the Algeria match was adjourned today.

Pavlos Joseph, 32, from Crystal Palace, south-east London, appeared at a special World Cup court in Cape Town.

But the case was adjourned until Friday when he will go on trial.

At a court appearance yesterday he was banned from attending future World Cup matches and released on 500 rand bail.

Brigadier Sally de Beer, spokeswoman for the South African Police Service, said: "The case was adjourned to Friday for plea and trial. Conditions remain the same."

Joseph was arrested yesterday morning and charged with trespassing.

He told the Sunday Mirror he was looking for a toilet after the match when a security guard sent him in the direction of the players' tunnel.

After taking a wrong turn, he found himself in the changing room where he says he told David Beckham: "David, we've spent a lot of money getting here. This is a disgrace. What are you going to do about it?"

His sister Sylvia Higgins, 44, told the Daily Mail: "He's been made a scapegoat by the South African police. We won't stop fighting until we get him out of there.

"I want our Government to help him. The whole family can't stop crying at the moment.

Video: Dressing room rant fan in court

"Pavlos shouldn't be standing before court - he didn't do anything that bad. This has got completely out of hand now."

A spokesman for the High Commission in South Africa said: "We have offered consular assistance."

Brigadier de Beer said: "The fan who entered the England team's dressing room on Friday night after the England-Algeria match, Mr Pavlos Joseph, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court for the second time today.

"The case was remanded until Friday for plea and trial. The case will be heard in Cape Town Magistrate's court number 14.

"The bail conditions of Mr Joseph were extended, that is his passport will stay in the possession of the South African Police Service and he may not attend any 2010 Fifa World Cup matches pending the finalisation of his trial."

A spokeswoman for the UK policing team in South Africa said a football banning order would not be pursued because the incident was not linked to violent behaviour.

Joseph was arrested at about 10.30am yesterday at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay after a police investigation in which officers analysed CCTV footage from the stadium.

The intrusion, which happened minutes after Princes William and Harry left, prompted the Football Association (FA) to make an official complaint to World Cup organiser Fifa.

Fifa promised security inside the stadium perimeters was being revised.

Joseph, a life-long England and Manchester United supporter, told the Sunday Mirror: "I looked David straight in the eye and said 'David, we've spent a lot of money getting here. This is a disgrace. What are you going to do about it?"'

The mortgage adviser told the newspaper that when Beckham asked him who he was, he responded: "I'm Pavlos and I actually need the toilet."

He said he then addressed the players, who were sitting on benches with towels around their waists.

"I told them 'That was woeful and not good enough'. The room was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. The players' chins were on their chests - they looked pretty ashamed."

The story is reminiscent of the "Smithy" sketch performed by James Corden, in which the comedian tries to encourage the players.

At an FA reception in Johannesburg on Saturday, Beckham played down the incident.

Beckham, who gave a joint interview with William and Harry, said: "Luckily it was after the princes had left - five to 10 minutes after. Obviously it's been blown out of all proportion as well."

The South African authorities have been accused over the "swift justice" handed out during the World Cup.

Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said it was "outrageous" after two women were arrested last week over an alleged "ambush marketing" stunt.

The women were each freed after paying 10,000 rand and surrendering their passports and are due back in Johannesburg Magistrates' Court tomorrow.

Their arrest came after a group of 36 women wearing orange mini-dresses promoting a brand of beer were ejected from Soccer City in Johannesburg at the match between Holland and Denmark.

Last Wednesday, a Nigerian national was sentenced to three years in jail after he was found with 30 World Cup tickets.

The man, Kunle Benjamin, was arrested just four days earlier after police spotted him driving erratically.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, which described the sentencing as "swift justice", said the suspect "could not give a satisfactory explanation for being in possession of the tickets".