Nov 5, 2013, 1:55 PM EDT
During the last minute of Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over the Cottagers, Riether ran to the corner where Pajtim Kasami and Januzaj were vying for the ball. The German defender came from behind Januzaj, kicked him in his tailbone and then stamped on the back of his ankle.
The incident sent a number of players into a frenzy, including Januzaj’s teammate Marouane Fellaini, who requested retrospective punishment. “For me it was a red card for the right back,” Fellaini said. “I hope the referee looks at the video later.”
Apparently, referee Lee Probert was listening as Riether will now serve a three-match ban after accepting a charge of violent conduct. On Tuesday, the Fulham defender apologized to Januzaj via Twitter.
He wrote: “I want to say I am sorry to Adnan Januzai. It was very unlike me and I can only say that frustration got the better of me.
“I also want to apologise to my team-mates, fans and everyone at the Club, for the ban incurred following Saturday’s match.
“I will accept the consequences of my actions, and hope to put it behind me when I return.
“I want the fans to know that I will be working hard to stay fit and will be ready to continue fighting for the Club as soon as I am able.SR”
In accordance with this year’s retroactive refereeing pilot project, an FA panel of three former referees – Steve Dunn, Eddie Wolstenholme and Alan Wiley – unanimously agreed that had Probert seen the incident, it would have been a sending off as an act of violent conduct.
Subsequent to the incident Manchester United manager David Moyes compared Januzaj to Lionel Messi for his ability to pop up from tough challenges.
“I think Adnan needs a little bit of protection or we are going to find he’s getting kicked up and down. . . . He gets kicked up and down in training every day and he gets on with it. . . . He only needs to look at Lionel Messi. He’s the best at getting up. We hope Adnan, and I’m not comparing him to Messi – we hope he can react like Messi – but he does need protection.
“It’s not a case of asking for protection. It’s up to the referees to do what’s right. But we will never ask for it.”
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