It may have been the most bizarre goal celebration since Robbie Fowler pretended to snort cocaine, but Stephen Ireland is set to escape punishment for the pants-down act he performed following his winner for Manchester City against Sunderland on Monday night.
Having scored the only goal of the game, in the 67th minute, the City midfielder delighted a live TV audience by pulling down his shorts to reveal a pair of blue scanties, sporting a Superman logo (right). His manager Sven Goran Eriksson feared the worst from the Football Association, but they have decided merely to remind Ireland of his responsibilities to the game.
This will please City officials, who said they would fight any unduly harsh punishment, and the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, who told Radio 5 Live, "I think it is fair enough just to give him a warning".
Ireland has already had plenty of exposure this season, causing a fuss in his native Ireland in September when he lied about the deaths of both his grandmothers to cover up that his partner had suffered a miscarriage. He then made some comments about how much he hated football and last month put his international career on hold amid reports, subsequently denied, that he had been attacked by some Ireland team-mates over his 'new' hairstyle.
He was left out of the Republic of Ireland squad named yesterday for the game against Wales on 17 November. The caretaker manager Don Givens said, "I felt it wasn't right to include Stephen in the squad because there has been no contact from him."