Football: Bosnich to face FA wrath

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The Independent Online
Police investigations into Mark Bosnich's Nazi salute at White Hart Lane on Saturday are still continuing and while it is not expected to result in criminal proceedings the Aston Villa goalkeeper is almost certain to face severe disciplinary action by the Football Association.

There has been criticism from an anti-racial organisation and the Jewish community concerning Bosnich's behaviour and an FA spokesman, Steve Double, said yesterday: "Clearly it is not a trivial matter. It caused offence to a great number of people and we will be carefully studying reports from both the referee and the police this week before deciding the appropriate course of action."

The FA has a tacit agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers that incidents of this nature are dealt with by the football authorities, but New Scotland Yard said yesterday that they were still interviewing people about the alleged offence and would probably not make an announcement about possible charges before Wednesday.

The Labour MEP Glyn Ford, the author of a European Parliament report on racism and xenophobia, called for Bosnich to be kicked out of the game for his Nazi salute, which, apparently, was delivered with the wrong arm - it should have been the right. "If the FA is serious about the campaign to kick racism out of sport then it has to kick Mark Bosnich out of football. He says it was a joke that went wrong. That is like Eichmann saying the concentration camps were a joke that went wrong. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Bosnich, who along with his manager, Brian Little, was interviewed by police immediately after the game following complaints by fans, was full of remorse and was even moved to ring up Radio Five Live's phone-in programme, Six-0-Six, to express his apologies to Tottenham supporters. That action will no doubt be taken into account by the FA when examining the matter.

What was particularly unfortunate about his action was that it should have been at a club with a large Jewish following, which, as an Australian, he may not have fully appreciated.

"I'm so sorry if I upset or offended anybody, but I think it is a sad indictment of society that things like this are now taken right out of context," Bosnich said. "It was all meant as a joke.

"I came from Australia to play in England believing that a big part of the game was the banter between players and the fans, but it seems that over the last couple of years this is no longer the case."

Bosnich, who is of Croatian descent, revealed in an interview with The Independent some time ago that he suffered personal abuse himself while growing up in Sydney. "I suffered a lot of prejudice," he said, "because of my family's background, I used to get called "the wog" which was very hurtful at the time. I've been strongly against racism ever since."