Football: Shearer vows to fight FA charge

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The Independent Online
ALAN SHEARER last night expressed his disappointment that he could not put his case to the Football Association before they brought a charge of misconduct against him as a result of his apparent kick on Leicester City's Neil Lennon during a Premiership match last Wednesday.

However, the England captain acknowledged that "there is apparently nothing in the FA's rules which enables a player to state his case prior to an announcement like this being made".

The Newcastle United striker added: "I am totally confident that I will eventually prove to everyone that the incident was not intentional."

Leicester City again said they consider the matter closed and Lennon criticised the FA for taking so long to reach a decision, which was taken personally by Graham Kelly, the chief executive of the FA, after studying video evidence of the incident.

"If the referee and linesman had acted in the right way at the time in dealing with what was a sending-off offence, then what has gone on since would have been unnecessary," the Northern Ireland international said. "That's where I have sympathy with Alan. If it hadn't been him he would not have had to put up with all the publicity that has followed. It's been ridiculous and I didn't want him charged."

Whatever happens Shearer will not miss any World Cup matches if he is found guilty of the assault on Lennon by an FA commission. Nor will he miss the FA Cup final against Arsenal on 16 May.

Shearer, widely regarded as hard but fair, has such an impeccable public image it was recently alleged that he was nicknamed "Mary Poppins" by Newcastle directors. However, since returning from a serious leg injury in January he has been involved in a series of controversial incidents. A public row with the part-timers of non-League Stevenage, who Newcastle played in the FA Cup, was followed by accusations of rough play by opponents from Leeds, Barnsley and Tottenham.

Shearer appeared to have become frustrated by Newcastle's struggles in the League this season, where they have scored only 35 goals in 37 games. The Magpies only moved clear of relegation at the weekend.

The FA is increasingly using video evidence to punish misconduct. Arsenal's Patrick Vieira and West Ham's Samassi Abou are awaiting a hearing on similar charges, but it can also be used to clear a player of wrong-doing.

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