Playing by the rules

March 31, 2000

Andrew Pakes is entirely wrong in saying Leeds United football club should suspend immediately the two players charged in connection with what police consider to be a racially motivated assault on a student (Soapbox, THES, March 24).

Our justice system works on the basis of innocent until proven guilty, and that has to apply in this case as well as in any other. The Leeds chairman has stated publicly that he does not "see any circumstances in which (these players) will play for Leeds United again if found guilty".

What more does Pakes want? By banning the players at this stage, Leeds would not only be acting as judge and jury before any legal action has been taken, but would also risk prejudicing any jury that may eventually sit on this case. Leeds United has taken the correct course of action.

The Eric Cantona example is not appropriate in this case. That incident took place at a football match and would have resulted in a suspension from football regardless of any criminal case that may or may not have proceeded. The two were not linked. In the case of the Leeds players, there is no relation to any event on the football pitch and as such there is no case for them to answer to the Football Association.

My only hope is that if they are found guilty, the chairman acts on his words and sacks them straight away, and that no other club takes up their contracts.

Sam Carpenter

London SW16

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