Football: Bosnich's 'act of stupidity' costs pounds 1,000

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The Independent Online
Mark Bosnich's Hitler-style salute to Tottenham Hotspur supporters was yesterday labelled "an act of stupidity" by the Football Association, who fined the Aston Villa goalkeeper pounds 1,000, but decided against suspending him.

The 24-year-old Bosnich, who declared that "common sense had prevailed" was found guilty of misconduct by a three-man FA commission, chaired by Geoff Thompson of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, at Lancaster Gate. The commission, in addition to the fine, severely censured the Australian, warned him as to his future conduct and ordered him to pay the costs of the hearing which lasted an hour and a half.

The gesture during the match at White Hart Lane on 12 October caused outrage that was exacerbated because of Spurs' large Jewish following. However, the player insisted that it was merely a prank that misfired.

Announcing the verdict, Steve Double, the FA spokesman, said: "The commission heard that Bosnich had been subjected to abusive chanting from the home crowd before the incident.

"Bosnich told the commission that his gesture to the crowd was intended as a Basil Fawlty-style joke. He was unaware of Tottenham's Jewish following and was devastated at the reaction to the incident. He stated that he abhorred racism.

"The commission decided that, while Bosnich's action was an act of stupidity, it was not his intention to cause offence or be insulting. He apologised publicly, quickly and profusely."

Bosnich was relieved with the outcome. "What we have seen today is common sense prevail," he said. "Let's hope I can now put this incident behind me and go forward with my career."

Asked about the fine, he said: "It's time to put this behind me. There are far more important things going and to be honest I'm sick of hearing my own voice. I abhor racism. The best thing to come out of this is that may be it has raised the awareness of racism. The PFA [the players' union] have got an anti-racism campaign underway and I would like to put my full support behind that."

The fine will not stop Bosnich enjoying banter with supporters. "I still definitely hope to have a rapport with fans. Sometimes in life when you do things wrong the best thing to do is to come out openly and to explain and say sorry. I'm 24. I made a mistake and that's the way it goes."

Brian Little, the Villa manager, was also satisfied. "It has been a fair hearing," he said.

However, the book is not closed on the incident as Bosnich, who misses today's home game against Leicester City with a long-standing knee injury, is still waiting to hear if he will face police action. A report has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Francis Lee has tried to appease Manchester City's frustrated supporters by insisting that Georgi Kinkladze is not on his way out of the club, despite reports claiming that the Georgian midfielder is unsettled.

Lee came under fire as City slipped to a 3-2 home defeat against Oxford on Wednesday. Hundreds of fans besieged the front entrance to call for the chairman's removal after City slipped into the bottom six of the First Division.

"When you hear the things that were said it hurts," said Lee, who took over in January 1994, "But I have made a large investment in this club and I will not be walking away. If I walk away from it now, I would be admitting defeat and missing out on what could be a much better period and brighter future."

On Kinkladze, Lee said: "Gio is very happy at Manchester City. If we were unable to reclaim Premiership status for next year we would have to think again in the boy's best interests. I do think he will stay this season."

Bolton Wanderers yesterday put the finishing touches to Jamie Pollock's pounds 700,000 transfer from Osasuna, who have agreed to give half the fee to Middlesbrough as compensation for losing the 22-year-old midfielder on a free transfer in July. The deal went through too late for Pollock to play against Crystal Palace today.

Forest bid battle, page 23

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