Football: Referee Fury at Di Canio's `Lenient' Ban
Harris, Nick, The Independent (London, England)
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY'S Paolo Di Canio was banned for 11 matches and fined pounds 10,000 yesterday for pushing referee Paul Alcock to the ground in his side's Premiership match against Arsenal on 26 September. A Football Association disciplinary tribunal imposed an eight-match suspension and the fine on top of the automatic three- game ban which the 30-year-old Italian striker's sending-off had already attracted.
Di Canio, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct, said after the hearing: "I am very, very sorry for what happened. I had a fair hearing, for which I am grateful."
His club, who had themselves suspended Di Canio after the incident, said they would not appeal. "We are satisfied with the outcome," Howard Culley, a Wednesday director, said. "We fully accept the decision. There will be no appeal. During the hearing Paolo apologised. He apologises to the commission, he apologises to the referee, he apologises to the club and its fans." The ban will keep Di Canio out of action until, ironically, Boxing Day, when he will be eligible to play for the Owls when they meet Leicester at Hillsborough. Both Di Canio and his club said yesterday they were looking forward to the player's return, and there was no suggestion he will abandon the English game as had been thought was a possibility. The match against Arsenal was marred by a brawl involving several players just before half-time. The Italian was shown the red card by Alcock and reacted by shoving the official in the chest. Alcock stumbled backwards and fell awkwardly to the ground. Alcock, who has said he will continue to referee matches, was not at yesterday's hearing as Di Canio had already admitted the charge. David Davies, the FA's director of public affairs, said: "Paolo Di Canio apologised for what had happened. He apologised to the FA, to the referee, to his club Sheffield Wednesday and its supporters. He said he had made a big and a bad mistake. He lost his head for two or three seconds and it will never happen again. "The commission was told by Sheffield Wednesday that the case was unusual because Mr Alcock had fallen to the ground. The media suggestion Paolo Di Canio had claimed the referee had fallen deliberately was vehemently denied on his behalf. …