UK player gets red card for tackling streaker
LONDON - The streaker wore green. The soccer player saw red.
A man wearing nothing but a bright green thong and a curly black wig dashed onto the field during a low-level game in England on Monday. Dorchester player-manager Ashley Vickers ended the intruder's 30-second jaunt with a thudding, neck-high tackle during the 70th minute of the game against Havant & Waterlooville.
Vickers was shown a red card for violent conduct with the score 1-1.
"I'm dumbfounded and speechless," Vickers told local newspaper The Dorset Echo. "My only thought was to get hold of him so we could get on with the game. I managed to grab him and bring him to the ground, and the funny thing was the stewards actually thanked me for it. But the ref decided to send me off and it beggars belief."
Dorchester lost 3-1, a blow to the team's hopes of making the playoffs in England's sixth tier of soccer.
The intruder, meanwhile, was marched out of Westleigh Park and banned from the stadium.
The streaker whose outfit resembled the "mankini" worn by Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" movie character caused a stir among the 458 spectators by running amok between stunned players. Two officials failed to stop the intruder before Vickers stepped in.
The ejection automatic for a player who attacks anyone on the field angered Dorchester's players, who complained in vain to the referee. Two more visiting players ended up being sent off in the final 10 minutes for unrelated incidents, leaving the club with only eight players at the final whistle.
Havant manager Shaun Gale sympathized with Vickers despite acknowledging the referee "stuck to the letter of the law."
"It may have been hijinks and given a few people a laugh but I feel sorry for Ashley Vickers, who thought he was doing the right thing," Gale said. "I spoke to him after the match and he was devastated.
"It is not a rule I knew. Next time a streaker comes onto the pitch, I have told my players to stand back and wait for the authorities to deal with it."
Vickers has three days to appeal the decision. The Football Association is likely to lend a sympathetic ear regarding any punishment.
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