Gianfranco Zola has called for an end to public castigation of his Chelsea team-mates who were accused of drunken and disrespectful behaviour on the day after the American terrorist tragedy.
The Chelsea quartet of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Jody Morris and Eidur Gudjohnsen allegedly upset American hotel guests in west London with their unruly behaviour in public while scenes of devastation were being relayed on television from the US. The four players were each fined two weeks' wages by Chelsea, a total of about £100,000, which went into the fund set up to help the Americans in the wake of the atrocities.
Zola believes it is time to move on. "It is in the past now," he said. "They realise what they have done and I am sure they did not mean to cause such offence."
Zola, the first Chelsea player to comment since the incident became public knowledge, was speaking before his team's Uefa Cup first-round second-leg tie against Levski Sofia in Bulgaria. Chelsea protect a 3-0 lead and the Italian is likely to be restored to the starting line-up in place of the striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who is suspended.
Emmanuel Petit is also set to return following a chest infection while Graeme Le Saux was left behind in London as his wife was due to give birth to their second child today.
Chelsea's opponents appear to have already thrown in the towel. They are expected to rest their top scorer Georgi Ivanov, saving him instead for Sunday's Bulgarian league derby with CSKA Sofia.Reuse content