`Victim portrayed as villain'

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The Cantona affair : OPINIONS Eric Cantona's on-field antics have shown time and again that he is a petulant, selfish, almost moronic human being. He is a disgrace to his fellow Frenchmen and to the shirt(s) he has worn for United, but most importantly he has disgraced the great game of Association Football. For that and that alone the sooner he is thrown out of the game the better. Jeff Kirkman, London E16

I am not a fan of football, and no self-respecting person can condone the footballer's action, but I am impressed with the skill and flair of Cantona. I am only surprised that an incident like this has not occurred before. Football enthusiasts to whom I have spoken all say that hurling abuse is a regular, and, it seems, enjoyable part of attending the game.

It seems unfair that Cantona should be portrayed as so much the villain, I am left with a strong feeling that, in this case, he is the victim. Jasmin Armour, Ashwell, Herts.

The only possible way for Manchester United to begin to erase the stain of Eric Cantona's criminal lunacy is to divest themselves entirely of his services, with a free transfer to any club cynical enough to want him. Tony Walton, Hove, East Sussex.

I care little for sport but I like the look of Eric Cantona, a man in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac and Harry Hotspur. Goaded past endurance by jeering yobs who don't deserve to unlace his boots, he knocks one of them down. Christ said turn the other cheek and ordinary mortals find that a useful excuse for cowardice and inaction. Ardent men like Cantona instinctively reclaim their honour with a harmless blow. He will pay of course. First he has to endure the cant of those commentators to whom aggression is normally a term of approbation. Then the men "who put the game first" will deprive Cantona of his living and the game of a great player. George Pownall, London SW4

While Eric Cantona's actions on Wednesday cannot be condoned, he has clearly had to suffer the sort of racial abuse directed regularly at many of our foreign and black players. General abuse seems part and parcel of the game, but racial abuse stops a large number of black and Asian fans watching the game. Mr Simmons [the fan he attacked] should be dealt with far more severely for his racial comments than should Eric Cantona for his over the top reaction. Andy Currie, Hull I wonder if so many column inches on your sports pages would have been given to a similar incident at Colchester v Bury on a Wednesday night in the middle of January. Martin Bradwell, Gillingham, Kent.

Letters, page 12