Football: Fowler appeals his Le Saux ban

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The Independent Online
ROBBIE FOWLER will appeal to the Football Association against his two-game ban for rude gestures towards Graeme Le Saux, backed by new video evidence.

The Liverpool striker was found guilty of the offence last week, but now has a tape from the BBC that shows that the Chelsea left-back struck him more than once. Fowler's appeal means that he can carry on playing this season while the FA sets a new date for his hearing. However, Fowler will be missing at the start of next season. Even if the Le Saux ban is lifted, he would still begin the new campaign suspended. He was given a separate four-game ban (and a pounds 32,000 fine) for his "drug-snorting" goal celebrations against Everton.

Paul Merson, meanwhile, has branded the punishment handed out by the FA to Fowler for pretending to snort cocaine as "a joke".

Merson, now with Aston Villa, will come face to face with Fowler at Anfield in a Premiership encounter tomorrow. The former Arsenal player has had widely-publicised drug and alcohol problems in the past, but he still believes the ban Fowler received is harsh.

"It's funny how a week changes the way you feel about things," Merson said. "When the Fowler incident happened, I looked upon it as just one of those things. I'm struggling now and maybe it isn't funny. But I've got enough on my plate without worrying about Robbie Fowler. Personally I think the four-game ban is a bit strong, a bit of a joke."

The much-rumoured departure of Graeme Souness from Benfica looks likely to happen at the end of the season. Reports yesterday indicated that the former Real Madrid coach, Jupp Heynckes, will replace the former Liverpool and Rangers manager at the helm of the Portuguese club next term.

The former Benfica midfielder Jonas Thern is leaving Rangers and returning home to Sweden after failing to recover from a serious knee injury. The 32-year-old has not played this season following surgery.

The world footballer of the year, Zinedine Zidane, has once again hinted that he may leave Juventus at the end of the season. The French World Cup winner has admitted that he is not happy at his Italian club. "I want to play in Spain. I don't know when but one day I will," Zidane said. "My wife is Spanish and I want to move there."