Outburst puts McFadden in SFA spotlight

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The Independent Football

James McFadden is facing an investigation into his altercation with a steward following Scotland's game with Lithuania.

Strathclyde Police have reported the Everton player to the Scottish Football Association after he reportedly called a Hampden Park steward an "idiot". The pitch-side argument followed McFadden's attempts to give his shirt to a nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

McFadden, who was receiving a standing ovation from the Tartan Army after Scotland's 1-0 Euro qualifier win, tried to hand his shirt to Stephen Reside. As he did so, a steward from the company Rock Steady prevented the player from leaving the pitch to approach the stand.

As he was led away, the Everton player continued his protests to stewards and police. After the game, McFadden said he had just wanted to give the boy his shirt but the steward would not let him.

"The steward was just being an idiot," McFadden said. "He was trying to do his job but it was stupid because I was trying to see one guy and I wasn't trying to jump into the crowd."

Strathclyde Police yesterday said the player's actions could have caused a riot and branded him "irresponsible".

"The behaviour of the player in question during and after the incident has been reported to the Scottish Football Association," a spokesman said. "Public safety is always the number-one priority at any game.

"Any incident that could cause the crowd to surge forwards or cause injury to even one supporter must be avoided at all costs.

"Whilst it is regrettable that any distress was caused to the young boy involved in this matter, it is also regrettable from a police perspective that the player concerned followed his actions with an ill-judged and irresponsible outburst."

Rock Steady's managing director, Mark Hamilton, backed the police and said the criticism levelled at one of his employees was "unwarranted and unjustified".

"We are in support of what Strathclyde Police are doing to deal with the situation on Saturday," Hamilton said. "The player's actions may have triggered off a reaction in the crowd because nobody knew what his actions were. That is why he was stopped. The reaction of the player was very disappointing and it merits some action from the SFA."

He added: "This was a safety issue and had nothing to do with a little boy in a wheelchair."

A spokesman for the Scottish Football Association said: "The police brought it to our attention and we agreed then that we would deal with it. Anything else that would be done will be done privately."

Neither McFadden, who joined Everton from Motherwell for £1.25m in September, or his agent, John Lonergan, would comment.