'I wish to congratulate you for your act of sportsmanship'

Less than a week after incurring the displeasure of Uefa, football's European governing body, for supporting the sacked Liverpool dockers, Robbie Fowler was yesterday canonised by Fifa for his sportsmanship.

Sepp Blatter, the executive secretary of the game's world governing body, thanked Fowler by fax for "helping maintain the integrity of the game".

Fowler himself was keeping quiet yesterday, which may have been a good idea given the bizarre nature of some of the tributes. One tabloid newspaper tried to present him with an old and uninscribed cup for being the sportsman of the decade.

Television pictures suggested Fowler had told Gerald Ashby that he had fallen after the referee had awarded a penalty following his tumble over David Seaman at Highbury on Monday night.

"Robbie felt the need to point out that Seaman hadn't touched him," Stan Collymore, his Liverpool strike partner, said yesterday. "A lot of players would have just left it at the referee's whistle."

"I can't say what the team's reaction would have been if [the penalty had been revoked] and the game had ended 1-1," David James, the Liverpool goalkeeper, said. "Different people in the squad would react in different ways. More generally I am not in favour of bringing in television for those decisions. The human element is one of the reasons people like football." Both players had initially thought Fowler was trying to save Seaman from being sent off.

Blatter had no doubts. His fax read: "I wish to congratulate you for the act of sportsmanship which you demonstrated. Visibly trying to persuade the referee from awarding a penalty in your favour did you great honour. It is the kind of gesture which helps maintain the integrity of the game.

"At a time when there is a disturbing trend towards cheating, and when Fifa is appealing to players (especially in the professional game) to help referees rather than deceive them, your example at this vital moment in such an important match should set an example to younger players and fellow professionals alike. Thank you for helping Fifa in its efforts for the good of the game."

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the players' union, the PFA, said: "I'd like any youngster coming into the game to use him as a role model for what he did. Not only was he clearly admitting he did not deserve a penalty, but also showing his concern as a fellow professional might be sent off. I know Robbie has a reputation for being a little bit of a scallywag on occasions, but nobody could fault him here."

The beaten manager was just as generous about Fowler, but not about Ashby. "It was a great gesture by Fowler and I would like to give him an award for fair play," said Arsene Wenger, who then added: "But if he got that I would also have to give the referee an award for stupidity."

Glenn Hoddle, while praising Fowler, gave the impression he would not be too pleased if he did it in an England shirt. "It was an honest reaction - you could argue if it was professional," he said.

Referees were divided. David Elleray pointed out that even if Seaman had not made contact, the "recklessness" of his challenge probably brought Fowler down.

Steven Lodge, the FA Cup final referee, said: "The first time I saw it I thought it was a harsh decision. Then I saw it again and thought he had clipped the back leg. Other referees have seen it the other way. It shows what a hard decision it was. You can see why he gave it."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England