Fan 'did nothing wrong'

2010-06-21 11:20
Cape Town – Friends and family defended a World Cup fan who entered the England dressing room and lectured the team, ahead of his court appearance on Monday.

Pavlos Joseph was to appear before a special World Cup court in Cape Town over the incident after England's 0-0 draw against Algeria. He says he wandered by accident into the dressing room while looking for a toilet but also told the team their performance had been a disgrace.

England lodged an official protest with FIFA and football's world governing body has also expressed unhappiness after it appeared security guards merely turned the supporter away rather than arrest him.

Leo Andrews, Joseph's cousin, said the man had lost his way in the stadium and should not have been hauled before a court. "He did nothing wrong," Andrews told the Cape Times newspaper.

"He walked (through) a door and then all this happened. It could've happened to anyone," Andrews added.


Joseph's travelling companion told the paper how the pair had become separated at the stadium as his friend went to find a toilet.

"(Joseph) had the keys to the place, I waited for two hours and phoned him to ask where he was. He said: 'I just told David Beckham off in the changing room.' I was like, yeah right.

"I only realised the next morning he was telling the truth. He had a few beers in him, so it was probably Dutch courage. He's really a timid lad."

Joseph made a brief appearance before magistrates on Sunday and was bailed until Monday when his trial was expected to begin. He was told he would not be able to attend any World Cup games until his case had been dealt with.

Police arrested Joseph on Sunday in the Camps Bay area of Cape Town where England played out their lacklustre draw against rank outsiders Algeria. He was told to surrender his passport before being brought to court.

Special World Cup courts
Police have set up special World Cup courts during the month-long tournament to deliver fast-track justice.

The episode happened just minutes after a visit by the British princes William and Harry into the changing room at Cape Town Stadium.

A British Sunday newspaper quoted Joseph as saying he stumbled into the dressing room by accident and told former England captain Beckham, now a member of coach Fabio Cappello's backroom staff, that the team's performance had been a "disgrace".

According to the Sunday Mirror, the fan then said the team's performance was "woeful and not good enough" before being told to leave by an official.

Beckham brushed off the incident, saying it had been "blown out of proportion".

Walked in very casually

"The actual fan literally just walked in very casually and just said something to me and then walked out – there was no scuffle, there was no aggression at all," the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star said at a weekend Football Association reception in Johannesburg.

Prince William, second in line to the British throne, also laughed off the incident.

"Harry and I left the door open, that's why it happened, it was our fault," William joked.

Security has been a chief concern for organisers ever since South Africa was named the World Cup host six years ago, with worries focusing mainly on the country's high crime rate.

Stadium security moved to the fore after stewards at Cape Town and three other venues walked off the job last week in a pay dispute that forced police to take over stadium guard duty.

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