Football: Gallacher set to fight `racist' claim

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The Independent Online
KEVIN GALLACHER is at odds with Eyal Berkovitch over a red card and an alleged racist slur. The Blackburn Rovers striker is angry that his appeal to referee Peter Jones against his sending-off 10 days ago following a clash with West Ham's Israeli midfielder was turned down by Jones yesterday.

Gallacher immediately rang the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor, and is also consulting solicitors about possible legal action against Berkovitch, who claimed to have been elbowed in the eye by the Scot.

Berkovitch's claim about an elbow being used has incensed Gallacher, who is considering civil action, and is equally angry at suggestions that he was one of three Blackburn players who made anti-Semitic remarks to Berkovitch during the tempestuous FA Cup fifth-round tie.

"I am sick," Gallacher said about Jones' decision not to reconsider the red card. "I am definitely taking steps towards clearing my name on this. I am not going to sit on the fence and take this any longer. I know I did nothing wrong and I know I am innocent. I will miss three and a half games over this and it is scandalous. This is my livelihood. Our season could be badly damaged by the time I get back. It's not right.

"I was confident that the referee would see what happened, that's why I asked him through the club to think again. All I can do at the moment to put this right is go out and settle the score with West Ham in the replay on Wednesday, but after that I have to clear my name."

The trouble started when Berkovitch fell over after a tackle by Billy McKinlay. Gallacher ran over to him and the pair exchanged insults. Minutes later, with the pair chasing the ball across the pitch, the Israeli went down dramatically.

Gallacher denies making an anti-Semitic comment at any time. An Israeli newspaper has alleged that three Rovers players made racist comments towards Berkovitch, but players from both sides have said they heard no such abuse.

The Football Association confirmed that Gallacher will begin a three- game ban for violent conduct this weekend. A spokesman said: "The referee has seen the tape and the result stands."