Sports Letters: The verdict on Eric Cantona

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The Independent Online
From Mr J Smith Sir: I did not previously have any sympathy for the foul-mouthed football fan who shouted abuse at Eric Cantona, but I am almost beginning to acquire some, after reading letters from some of your correspondents who think the abuse justified what happened. Firstly, one of your readers says that any ordinary man in the street would probably thump someone who directed at him a tirade of such abuse. But the man in the street does not receive about £10,000 a week and much adulation for performing in a publicarena. Doesn't this create a different set of responsibilities?

Then there is the reader who thinks that the insertion of a reference to nationality in the foul-mouthed abuse makes it something that cannot be tolerated, as if this reference was anything other than a convenient stick to use.

If we want to be fair-minded, and agree that this gifted footballer was subjected to some terrible verbal abuse, could we not also be even-handed and allow that a football spectator might feel enraged at the gifted footballer committing a nasty foul? Whyis provocation a defence for one and not the other?

Yours truly, J M SMITH West Kirby Merseyside