Steven Defour paid a heavy price for breaking one of the rules of life as a professional athlete: never let opposing fans get under your skin.
Defour was dismissed from Sunday’s Belgian Jupiler League (first division) game between host Standard Liege and visiting Anderlecht. Defour received his second yellow card of the game after he powerfully kicked the ball into the stands — amid ongoing taunts and less than an hour after fans unfurled an insulting banner depicting his beheading.
Fans targeted Defour, 26, for abuse because he once played for (and captained) Standard Liege but now represents bitter rivals Anderlecht. Defour had a four-year spell with Portugal’s FC Porto between his Standard Liege and Anderlecht careers, but it wasn’t long enough to convince his former fans not to brand him a “traitor” when he joined Anderlecht last summer.
Standard Liege fans unfurled a banner of Jason Voorhees of “Friday the 13th” fame holding a sword in one hand and Defour’s severed head in the other in the lead-up to kickoff.
Standard Liege beat 10-man Anderlecht 2-0.
Defour apologized for booting the ball at hostile fans after the game.
“Apologies to my fans and team-mates at Anderlecht, although I do not understand the red card — you cannot see or hear the referee,” Defour said.
Police have vowed to find and ban the fans responsible for the banner, and public officials have slammed its violent image, according to the BBC.
Standard Liege fans had more support for their in-game stunts when their antics were more benign, inclusive and filled with toilet paper.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@IndyFootball