'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"I can't say what the team's reaction would have been if [the penalty had been revoked] and the game had ended 1-1," David James, the Liverpool goalkeeper, said.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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee