The Swansea City captain has come under fire after a serious incident during Sunday’s game against Manchester United.
Late in the second half with the score tied 1-1, van Persie was fouled and went down just outside the Swansea City penalty area.
Referee Michael Oliver blew the whistle. Less than one second later, Williams booted the ball into the back of the United star’s head from close range and with lots of power.
Luckily, Van Persie escaped serious harm. He was fine enough to leap to his feet and start a minor fracas. He grabbed Williams’ jersey and went nose-to-nose with the highly rated Swansea defender before they were separated by teammates.
Oliver showed yellow cards to both players — Williams for dangerous play (and perhaps attempted murder) and Van Persie for causing a ruckus.
Williams claims that he was trying to clear the ball from danger and he didn’t intend to hit van Persie, according to the BBC.
“Everyone’s going to have their own opinion but, from my point of view, I tried to apologize on the pitch but it all flared up. I just kicked the ball in frustration and obviously not trying to hit him square on the head. I understand exactly why he’s angry. I’d be the same if the ball hit me on the head at that pace.”
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is not in such a forgiving mood. He toes the line which separates fact from hyperbole in condemning Williams.
“Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive,” Ferguson said. “It was a disgraceful act from their player. He should be banned by the FA. Robin could have had a broken neck. He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many years.
“It was absolutely deliberate. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee, he could have killed the lad.”
Despite Ferguson’s protests, Williams won’t face further punishment because Oliver saw the incident and cautioned him for it. The Football Association (FA) reserves the use of retroactive punishment for incidents that happen off the ball and escape the view of the referee.
Agitators like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger are calling for a new system that will see an ethics panel review specific incidents with the power to punish offenders. If England’s biggest clubs put their weight behind such a measure, the FA could implement the new justice system in the near future. One already exists in Major League Soccer — for better or for worse.
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Watch the incident in the video below.