Football: Fowler decides against FA appeal

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The Independent Online
ROBBIE FOWLER has dropped plans to appeal against the six-match ban imposed on him by the Football Association.

The Liverpool striker, following discussions with the FA yesterday, will now be allowed to serve the whole ban this season. It means that the England international will lead Liverpool's attack at home to Aston Villa today and then sit out the last six games of the campaign.

Fowler's ban will start with Wednesday's home game against Leicester and include the following five games against Blackburn, Tottenham, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon.

However, Fowler has issued a statement through his legal advisor, Kevin Dooley, that underlines his bitter disappointment at his treatment by the FA. The statement read: "Robbie Fowler has decided not to appeal against the FA penalties at a disciplinary committee hearing on April 9. He shares the view of many commentators that the penalties were unjustified and harsh.

"For some time he has been subjected to the vile taunts that he takes drugs. His unplanned reaction to those taunts during the Everton game led him to mock the fans who were taunting him.

"The disciplinary committee appears to have ignored this provocation in imposing a four-match ban and the largest fine ever handed to a player. Robbie accepts that his behaviour was embarrassing and regrettable. He has apologised to those offended by his behaviour and hopes that in the future, people have no reason to judge him other than for his footballing abilities.

"He is persuaded that it is in the best interests of the game and Liverpool FC that these incidents should be left in the past and he looks forward to playing again after the completion of his ban. Robbie thanks all those who have been supportive during this difficult time and in particular Liverpool FC, his team-mates and his friends."

Fowler was given a two-match ban for his altercation with the Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux, and a four-match ban for pretending to snort cocaine while celebrating a goal against Everton.

Manchester United fans have hit back at claims that they are the worst behaved supporters in the country.

Aston Villa's head of security, John Hood, made the accusations after some United supporters invaded the pitch at the end of Wednesday's FA Cup semi-final replay victory over Arsenal. The Football Association is investigating the behaviour of the United fans, but Andy Walsh, the chairman of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association said Hood has overreacted.

"Mr Hood is well over the top in his comments," Walsh said yesterday. "Emotionally it was a very highly-charged game and, whilst recognising that Mr Hood has his job to do, he's also got to understand that after one of the greatest FA Cup semi-final games ever, emotions run high."

Dennis Wise said yesterday that he did not bite the Real Mallorca defender, Marcelino. The Chelsea captain, who was informed by Uefa, European football's ruling body, that a disciplinary hearing will be held on Monday, was seen on television apparently trying to bite the arm of the centre- back during the Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final first-leg game.

If found guilty, Wise faces a ban from the return leg on Thursday as well as the final, if Chelsea reach it. However, Wise said: "I didn't bite him. The TV showed me gesturing to bite him and obviously everyone has jumped on the bandwagon."