Filed: Friday, 15th November 2002
By: Graeme Howlett
Diouf in the clear [15/11/02] Liverpool Police are set to clear Red's player El Hadji Diouf of any wrongdoing during the match against the Hammers earlier this month, despite claims from travelling fans that the player spat at them.
Diouf, who was warming up in front of the Hammers fans during the 2-0 reversal a fortnight ago allegedly spat toward the visiting supporters, causing fury amongst the travelling faithful.
After the match several Hammers fans made official complaints to Merseyside Police, whilst others gave full statements to back the claims.
That same evening Liverpool described the claims as 'absolute rubbish'; spokesman Ian Cotton stating:
"We spoke to Diouf and can categorically deny any suggestions that he spat at, or in the direction of, the visiting West Ham United supporters.
"We have also spoken to stewards at that end of the ground and they have also confirmed that the allegations are wrong. The story is absolute rubbish."
Despite the denial Merseyside Police carried out what they describe as 'a thorough investigation' - yet despite taking several statements (including at least one from a Liverpool supporter), all of which clearly accused Diouf of spitting they are set to drop the case through a lack of evidence.
In a letter to one of the supporters involved in the fracas, Liverpool Chief Executive Rick Parry explained:
"It is quite clear that there was a significant disturbance amongst the West Ham fans. This was, of course, evident on the day.
"But having reviewed all CCTV and match coverage nothing was revealed - although that is not surprising as cameras would not normally focus on players warming up.
"It is most unusual for players to warm up in front of visiting supporters (it happens perhaps once or twice each season) and in moving forwards we will certainly take this up with the Premier League. It makes sense for them to be kept separate.
"My purpose in writing is not to take issue with you but on the basis of information gathered I'm not at all sure it is fair to say that El Hadj Diouf was not abused or jeered [by the Hammers fans].
"I can assure you that this was not, and is not, our intention to suggest that you are either irrational or dishonest. If you have gained this impression then I apologise. We are not trying to cause offense and we take no pleasure in the knowledge that you are upset.
"I hope you will appreciate that after the match there were some fairly wild allegations flying around, some of which are wide of the mark."
So a slightly more reasonable response from Liverpool - but nonetheless a clear rebuffal of the supporters claims.
The verdict has been described by one angry Hammer as 'a Kop Out'. And who could argue?
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