Friday, January 16, 2009

‘Munich jibe’ row at Marine FC match

Source: Liverpool Echo p1 p2

Jan 16 2009 by Staff Reporter, Liverpool Echo

A FOOTBALLER who appeared to mock the Munich air disaster during a game has had his contract cancelled by his Merseyside club.

Marine FC midfielder John Lawless allegedly made an aeroplane motion with his arms while taking a corner during a match against Manchester-based FC United last month.

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

The club in College Road, Crosby, said it had terminated the player’s contract “by agreement of both parties”.

Lawless, 26, of Croxteth, was unavailable for comment today.

His parents told the ECHO they did not wish to discuss the controversy.

People at the match have stated there was persistent and “unsavoury” anti Liverpool FC chanting at the match which may have prompted Mr Lawless’s response.

Marine chairman Paul Leary said: “We have announced that contracted player John Lawless has left the club and his contract has been cancelled by agreement of both parties.”

The Football Association wrote to the Mr Lawless about the allegations who responded in writing after a complaint was made to the governing body.

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

A spokesman for the club, who play in the Unibond League, said: “We were satisfied from the outset it would be dealt with by the relevant authorities, the police and the FA, and we were satisfied Marine would deal with it accordingly.

“The Munich air disaster is a sensitive topic for our supporters.

“It was not something that was pleasant to see, but they reacted impeccably and did not rise to the bait, which was obviously his intention.”

It is understood a second Marine player, Shaun Tuck, was also warned by police for making a similar gesture during the match at Bury FC’s Gigg Lane ground, where FC United play.

He remains with the club although his involvement in the incident is still being investigated.

PC Tony Brown, a football intelligence officer with Greater Manchester police, said: “Offensive behaviour will not be tolerated.

“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.