The morning after Tottenham Hotspur’s penalty shootout loss to Norwich City in the fifth round of the FA Cup, we have a little more clarity on what happened to send Eric Dier charging into the stands to confront a fan after the final whistle blew.
Numerous outlets are reporting that Dier entered the stands to defend his younger brother from abuse from another Tottenham fan. There do not appear to be any indications, as hypothesized in the early moments after the incident, that racism was involved. The fan, who was caught on numerous cellphone camera recordings of the incident, apparently began verbally and physically confronting Dier’s brother in the stands after first subjecting Dier himself to additional verbal abuse. A scuffle ensued before stewards and other fans got in front of Dier and defused the situation.
Now, both Tottenham Hotspur and the FA have opened an investigation into what happened that would send Dier into the stands, something if not forbidden, seriously frowned upon by FA’s guidelines. The Evening Standard reports that the fan instigator was found and questioned immediately, and that Dier is set to give his side of the incident today.
The FA are unlikely to be so lenient, however, with the governing body seeking observations from Dier and the club this morning, while they may also seek to speak to the supporter.
The FA are investigating whether Dier broke any specific rules by entering the stands but, regardless, they could conclude that he has brought the game into disrepute and seek a punishment.
— Dan Kilpatrick, Evening Standard
It’s probably not great news for Dier that the FA is taking a keen interest in what happened, as the FA is not known for being lenient especially when it comes to players “bringing the game into disrepute” as they call it. The club may not be disciplining Eric after what happened, but it seems extremely likely that Dier will be facing some sort of disciplinary action, quite possibly a multi-game suspension.
Jose Mourinho addressed the incident in his post-match press conference and after speaking to Dier about the incident in the changing room. In his comments, Mourinho did not defend Dier’s actions, but sympathized with him, especially considering it involved a member of his family.
“Eric Dier did something that we professionals cannot do but in these circumstances every one of us would do. Because when somebody insults you and your family is there and you get involved with the person that is insulting you, in this case a younger brother, I think Eric did what we professionals we cannot do. But I repeat, probably everyone of us would do.”
The wheels of justice in English professional football can turn pretty slowly, so it could be a while before any of this gets resolved. The club are said to be looking at CCTV footage of the incident and also employing lip-readers after identifying the fan in question, and that could have an impact on whether the fan will face any sanctions or disciplinary proceedings. The Standard also notes that the Metropolitan Police has not received any complaints of misconduct stemming from the match.