Friday, January 16, 2009

'Munich gesture' footballer has contract terminated

Source: Belfast Telegraph and The Scottish Herald

Thursday, 15 January 2009

A footballer who appeared to mock the Munich air disaster during a game in Manchester has had his contract cancelled by his club, it has emerged.

John Lawless, a midfielder for Marine FC, allegedly made an aeroplane motion with his arms while taking a corner during a match against FC United in December.

Marine FC, based in Crosby, Merseyside, have now terminated the player's contract.

A statement on the team's website this week said that Lawless had left the club, adding that "his contract has been cancelled by agreement of both parties".

The 1958 Munich air crash left 23 people dead, including eight Manchester United players.

Former Manchester United footballer and Munich survivor Albert Scanlon described Lawless as a "complete idiot".

Mr Scanlon suffered from a fractured skull and a broken arm and leg in the crash.

The 73 year old said: "He was probably trying to have a go at the fans but it backfired on him.

"Most people still remember Munich in the right way, but you still get one or two idiots that try and get attention."

FC United was formed in 2005 by Manchester United fans opposed to Malcolm Glazer's takeover at Old Trafford.

Mr Scanlon said: "FC United are still United supporters. The man's a complete idiot."

A spokesman for FC United, which plays in the Unibond League, said: "We were satisfied from the outset that it would be dealt with by the relevant authorities, the police and the FA, and we were satisfied that Marine FC would deal with it accordingly."

He added: "The Munich air disaster is a sensitive topic for our supporters. It wasn't something that was pleasant to see but they reacted impeccably and didn't rise to the bait, which was obviously his intention."

It is understood that a second Marine FC player, Shaun Tuck, was also warned by police for making a similar gesture during the match at Gigg Lane in Bury, Greater Manchester.

Pc Tony Brown, a football intelligence officer with Greater Manchester Police, said: "Offensive behaviour will not be tolerated and it is testimony to the swift actions of the officers at the match that this situation was dealt with quickly and without any further incidents."

The Football Association said it was investigating the matter.