Football: 'This will not mar my love of football' - Alcock

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The Independent Online
PAUL ALCOCK, the referee on the receiving end of the assault that led to Paolo Di Canio being banned and given a heavy fine, said yesterday he intended to put the incident behind him. He also said he would remain impartial in any future fixture involving Di Canio which he might be called upon to officiate.

"I love refereeing, I've been doing it for 28 years and I will not let this mar my love of the sport in the long term," he said. "I need to take that positive attitude, it's no good being negative about things.

"What the FA have done, they have done, and I just need to get on with things and put this all behind me. My feelings towards Paolo Di Canio in the next game in which I referee him would be the same as for any match - if he plays in accordance with the laws of the game, then I'll have no reason to speak to him."

The Sheffield Wednesday manager, Danny Wilson, said: "I need to get my head around this before deciding what I will say.

"We've a very important game tomorrow [at home to Everton] and I may make some comment then." Di Canio received an eight-match suspension for his attack on Alcock in addition to the three-game ban imposed for his initial sending-off offence.

Gabriel Marcotti, an English-based journalist working for the Italian sports' daily Corriere dello Sport, said the Football Association had gone over the top.

"There is no doubt that the referee falling over made the situation look worse than it was," he said. "It looked fairly comical at the time but if it had been a bigger, heavier man there wouldn't have been as much of a problem. A similar situation in Italy would have been dealt with much more leniently."

Marcotti outlined an incident involving Lazio's Pavel Nedved, the Czech Republic international, during a recent Italian Cup game.

"Nedved put his hands on the referee - not as bad as the Di Canio incident - and received a three-match ban. Even then most people thought it was too many," he said. "In Italy, most people accept Di Canio lost his cool and shouldn't have done what he did, but these things happen. There is no suggestion that the referee dived, he just lost his balance, but without that there wouldn't have been such a furore."

However, Marcotti was quick to play down suggestions that the "Italian temperament" was the main reason behind Di Canio's behaviour.

"Since the Second World War there have only been two incidents of players assaulting referees. It is nothing to do with a Continental attitude, it is just the individual."