Everton’s Marouane Fellaini will face FA justice after he appeared to headbutt Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross in the second half of Saturday’s game.
Referee Mark Halsey didn’t punish Fellaini for the incident, but the Everton midfielder could be hit with a lengthy ban sometime this week.
WWE supremo Vince McMahon couldn’t have scripted a better matchup. On one side was Fellaini — darling of Everton fans, transfer target and contender for one of many “Player of the Year” awards.
Some consider Shawcross one of English soccer’s villains. The defender and club captain embodies the “robust” approach for which Stoke City is famous. As any Arsenal fan will recall, it was Shawcross who broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg (nearly ending his promising career) with a desperate tackle in September 2010.
In the second half of Saturday’s game, Shawcross was marking Fellaini, holding him by the jersey and body, as Everton prepared for a corner kick. It was too much contact for Fellaini’s liking, so he headbutted Shawcross, sending his opponent tumbling to the ground.
The script followed the tradition of professional wrestling with Halsey missing the incident, while television cameras and more than 27,000 witnessed it.
Fellaini released a statement on Everton’s website apologizing for the headbutt.
“I apologise completely to Ryan Shawcross, my team mates and to our fans at the game,” Fellaini said. “There was a lot of pushing and pulling going on inside the Stoke penalty area and I didn’t feel I was getting any protection from the officials. Nevertheless I know I shouldn’t have done what I did.
“I have also apologised to the manager and the staff. I have no excuses, I was disappointed with the way I was being treated and I lost my temper, which was unprofessional of me.”
The Mail reports Everton manager David Moyes criticized Fellaini after the game — in public and in private. He expects the star midfielder to miss key games later this month, including Chelsea’s visit to Goodison Park on Dec. 30.
“We will take the punishment if it is given for it,” Moyes said. “I have told him in the dressing room that it is not acceptable — I won’t accept it as a manager that he does that.
“There is no absence yet, but he is a really good player and a big part of the team, and that is why I think the biggest disappointment, if anything does happen, is that he will have let the team down.”
Sky Sports reports Tony Pulis was stunned that Fellaini was not shown a red card. The Stoke City manager’s comments make it clear that he doesn’t watch much professional wrestling.
“I have a lot of respect for Mark Halsey and I think he’s a good referee but I don’t know whether he has seen it,” Pulis said after the game. “If he has seen it and not acted, then you really want to know why he has not acted.
“I don’t think you can hide behind anything and what he (Fellaini) has done is wrong.”
Shawcross’ teammate Robert Huth used Twitter to make light of Fellaini’s headbutt on Shawcross.
Hate to see diving in the prem. stay on your feet shawcross—
robert huth (@robert_huth) December 16, 2012
Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane must be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Watch Fellaini’s headbutt in the video below.
Thumbnail photo via Facebook/Headbutting a 5 year old and thinking your Marouane Fellaini