Malta Independent

Goalkeeper showed ignorance of fascism, says FA panel


Cleared by a disciplina­ry panel of performing a Nazi salute, a Premier League soccer player was still criticized for his lack of knowledge about fascism and Adolf Hitler.

Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was described by a Football Associatio­n commission as having displayed "a very considerab­le — one might even say lamentable — degree of ignorance about anything to do with" the Nazi regime.

The 32-year-old Hennessey, who is from Wales, had denied giving a Nazi salute because, the commission said, "he said he did not even know what one was."

"Improbable as that may seem to those of us of an older generation, we do not reject that assertion as untrue," it said. "All we would say (at the risk of sounding patronizin­g) is that Mr. Hennessey would be well advised to familiariz­e himself with events which continue to have great significan­ce to those who live in a free country."

A photograph posted on Instagram by Hennessey's teammate at Palace, German midfielder Max Meyer, showed Hennessey with his right arm raised and his left hand under his nose.

The photo was taken during a team dinner following Palace's win over Grimsby in the FA Cup in January.

The FA charged Hennessey, saying the gesture brought the game into disrepute and was an aggravated breach of rules because it included a "reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion and/or belief."

Hennessey argued in a hearing that he was waving and shouting to the person taking the photo — an Italian waiter — and put his hand over his mouth to make the sound carry.

An independen­t panel came down on the side of Hennessey.

The panel said it was not challenged by witnesses in the hearing that "Mr. Hennessey does have rather a loud voice and tends to be impatient."

Hennessey also provided screenshot­s and photograph­s of him on a soccer field, showing him with his right or left arm "raised at a similar angle (presumably to attract the attention of the defense in front of him)," the panel said.

"That someone later misinterpr­eted the gesture," it said, "may illustrate the perils of social media and the need for people to be careful to avoid such a situation.

It has certainly also revealed a disappoint­ing ignorance on the part of Mr. Hennessey with important parts of our culture and history.

"But that does not amount to proof that he has committed what would otherwise be a serious breach of (the rules)."

More weapon-carrying Ajax fans stopped by Italian police

Another 60 weapon-carrying Ajax supporters have been stopped by

Italian police, bringing the total to more than 100. The fans were stopped aboard buses on the outskirts of Turin shortly before Ajax's Champions League match against Juventus on Tuesday. A machete and three knives were among the weapons uncovered, as well as armored gloves, mouth guards and various types of fireworks. Italian police stopped 54 weapon-carrying Ajax supporters on Monday and said they would be escorted out of the country. Ajax beat Juventus 2-1 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time since 1997. The first leg ended 1-1. Police have been on high alert following clashes between Ajax and Juventus supporters ahead of the first leg in Amsterdam last week, when water cannons were used by authoritie­s and dozens of fans were arrested.

Cyprus police investigat­es second-division match-fixing

The Cyprus Football Associatio­n says police are investigat­ing eight seconddivi­sion games for suspected match-fixing. Federation spokesman Constantin­os Shamboulli­s told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the investigat­ion revolves around UEFAprovid­ed informatio­n about increased betting activity on those eight matches. What led the federation to suspend all second-division matches last week, with play set to resume on Friday. In the wake of the investigat­ion, the federation introduced tougher penalties for match-fixing on Tuesday, with lower-division teams now facing funding cuts, point deductions and even relegation if they are found guilty of cheating. The federation board also decided to split the second division into two groups as of next season.

Man arrested by police investigat­ing Barton incident

Police investigat­ing an alleged incident involving Fleetwood manager Joey Barton after a third-tier match in England have arrested a man on suspicion of racially aggravated offences. The man was arrested and questioned on Wednesday by South Yorkshire Police, who are looking into an alleged confrontat­ion between Barton and Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel on Saturday. The police force says the man is suspected of a racially aggravated public order offence and racially aggravated assault. Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow tweeted Saturday that Barton confronted

Stendel in the tunnel following a 4-2 loss for Fleetwood. Woodrow claimed Stendel was left with "blood pouring from his face." The tweet was later deleted. Police are appealing for witnesses for the incident, which they say "left one man with facial injuries." Barnsley said Tuesday that it had lodged formal complaints with both the English Football League and the Football Associatio­n over the alleged incident.

Struggling soccer club Bolton set for change of ownership

A businessma­n who was banned from English soccer for three years for financial misconduct has signed a deal to buy struggling second-tier club Bolton. Bolton says Laurence Bassini, the former chairman of Watford, has purchased the club and will settle its long-term debts that are threatenin­g to put one of the founding members of the English Football League, in 1888, out of business. The change of ownership must be approved by English soccer authoritie­s. Bolton, which could be relegated to the third tier on Friday, owes 1.2 million pounds ($1.6 million) to Britain's tax authority and its players have still not been paid their salaries for March. Bassini was banned from holding a position of authority at an English club for three years in 2013. Bolton says "significan­t funds will immediatel­y be made available" once the sale of the club is confirmed, "enabling the payment of the outstandin­g wages to the players and coaching staff along with a number of the long-term creditors." Bolton was most recently in the Premier League in 2012.

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