Football: Blissett's case causes confusion: The Blissett-Uzzell case has brought a range of reactions within the football world

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The Independent Online
THE trial of the Brentford striker Gary Blissett, who was cleared on Thursday of causing grievous bodily harm to John Uzzell, the former Torquay United defender, has provoked a variety of reactions from the football world.

The case was the result of an incident between the two players in a Third Division match last December which left Uzzell, 33, with a fractured left cheek-bone and eye-socket. Uzzell has not played since. With Chelsea's Paul Elliott apparently intent on suing Dean Saunders because of a tackle made on Elliott while Saunders played for Liverpool, and which left Elliott seriously injured, those in the game are far from united as to how these matters should be resolved.

Many feel that football should keep its own house in order. 'Perhaps if the FA took a stronger stand then these sorts of incidents would never get to the stage of going to the courts,' Bob Bolder, the Charlton goalkeeper, said. 'It does seem to be creeping in more but it is understandable.'

David White, the Manchester City and England striker, felt the same. 'We have our own laws in the game and they really should be able to deal with this sort of situation.' But White added: 'I can understand that if a player receives an injury unnecessarily, which costs him time in the game, then he will want to see justice done. I have every sympathy with John Uzzell but I think if Gary Blissett had been found guilty it would have set a very dangerous precedent.'

Mick McCarthy, the Millwall player-manager, said: 'I have mixed feelings on this subject. I do not like to see incidents such as this end up in the court. But if I was an aggrieved party and thought a guy injured me intentionally I would certainly take him to court. The problem is proving intent: it is almost impossible. Players do not go out with the intention of breaking an opponent's leg, jaw or nose.'

Justin Edinburgh, the Spurs defender, fears there will more problems in the future. 'I envisage the situation will get worse and there will be more cases similar to this being taken to court. Players will have to be even more careful now.'

The decision of Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive to give evidence in Blissett's defence provoked a strong reaction from Lester Shapter, a former referee. Shapter said: 'I am absolutely gutted, not only for John Uzzell but for the game of football. Mr Kelly had an ideal opportunity to help rid professional football in this country of one of the biggest ills in the game today. If he is being quoted correctly, he did not take it.'