Fabregas 'spitting' storm has beaten Hull seething

Injured Arsenal captain denies tunnel incident with Tigers' assistant manager
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The Independent Online

Cesc Fabregas last night accused Phil Brown of lying after the Hull City manager said that the Arsenal club captain had spat at his assistant Brian Horton as Arsenal's 2-1 victory in the FA Cup sixth round descended into an extraordinary row between the two clubs.

Brown will almost certainly face Football Association charges after he also intimated that referee Mike Riley had "cheated" his team by allowing William Gallas' controversial winning goal to stand. That was after Brown accused Fabregas, injured and a spectator in the dugout, of spitting at the feet of Horton at the end of the game.

On the Fabregas incident, Brown said: "I was there, I witnessed it. Fabregas spat at our assistant manager. That's their club captain. Hopefully he's proud of himself. He spat at his feet. My club captain wouldn't do that. I'm not bothered if he apologises." Earlier Brown had said: "For Arsenal's club captain Cesc Fabregas to spit at my assistant Brian Horton shows you what this club is all about."

Fabregas later said: "I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing? I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players."

At half-time, stewards had to intervene when Nick Barmby and Horton clashed with Arsenal players and coaching staff. Barmby had given Hull the lead before Robin van Persie equalised in the 74th minute and Gallas headed in the winner from an offside position with six minutes left.

The Hull manager then went on to attack Riley. When it was put to him that he might feel "cheated", Brown replied: "You used the word. I can't use that word I'm afraid, but that's the case." Later he said: "We've not been beaten by Arsenal who are fourth in the Premier League, we've been beaten by the linesman [Andy Garratt]. It's disgraceful."

Brown added: "We lost the game unfairly. The lad [Gallas] is two yards offside when he scores, Nicky Barmby's a yard offside [in a separate incident when a goal was disallowed]. End of story. The flag goes up for Barmby, it doesn't go up for him [Gallas]. I didn't use the word cheat, you did."

Continuing his attack on Riley and Garratt, Brown said: "The second goal was a mistake by the officials. Ask Mr Riley how much that will cost Hull City. I don't think he'll understand, I don't think he'll care."

The Hull manager did not shake hands with Arsène Wenger, his Arsenal counterpart, at the end of the game and accused him of being an "absolute disgrace" for pressurising Riley into booking goalkeeper Boaz Myhill for time-wasting. "It's very hard to take. Arsène Wenger got my goalkeeper booked for time-wasting. He was complaining from 15 minutes in. It's an absolute disgrace."

Wenger claimed that he waited in the tunnel after the game for Brown to shake hands but the Hull manager chose to go onto the pitch to applaud his fans. Brown said: "Arsène never shakes my hand. It's normally etiquette, maybe he was a bit sore at us beating them last time [in September]. He got his revenge at the KC stadium."

Wenger, whose side now face Chelsea at Wembley on 18 April in the first of the two FA Cup semi-finals, said that Brown should not have discussed the post-match incidents. "I have been 12 years in this job and I have seen a few incidents in the tunnel," he said. "You will never see me in a press conference say 'He did this or he did that'. Never. It is very disappointing [that Brown has done it]."

The Arsenal manager said he did not believe that Fabregas would have spat at Horton and that Gallas' goal was not offside.

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