Stoke City striker Ricardo Fuller said his sending off for slapping teammate Andy Griffin against West Ham United on Sunday was a result of the club captain “disrespecting” him during a row over the conceding of a goal.
The unusual incident happened after Griffin was at fault for West Ham’s equalizer in the Premier League game, which the London club went on to win 2-1 with an 87th-minute goal.
“I simply said to Griff ‘clear the ball out’ and he was very rude and disrespectful,” Fuller told Sky Sports News yesterday. “It’s all done and dusted now.”
“What he said was bad but what I did was worse and I’m probably going to be suspended for three or four games,” he said.
The two players argued as Stoke prepared to restart the game after Carlton Cole’s 51st-minute equalizer and Fuller had to be restrained after slapping Griffin, before being sent off for violent conduct.
“I feel bad, knowing I cost my team some points,” said the Jamaican international striker.
Asked about his future, he said: “It’s up to the club. I give my all to Stoke, maybe I give too much and maybe that’s why I’m in this position.”
“Anything that goes, goes, I’m okay. It’s not a position any football player would like to be in. It’s one of them things and I’ve just got to get over it. It will go away anyway, it’s just a matter of time. Time is always the master,” Fuller said.
“I’m sorry for what happened, especially for the fans who have been great this season. Hopefully, it will never happen again. It’s not a position I like to be in. I’m so passionate, I love to do football work and I love to do football work for Stoke City. Anyway, it’s up to the club,” he said.
With the transfer window imminent, some fans have said City should sell Fuller.
But Stoke chairman Peter Coates told the club’s official Website on Tuesday: “It hasn’t entered our heads to sell him. We’re absolutely sure we want to keep him. Ric’s a good player and you don’t sell your good players.”
“He’s a big player and an important player, he helped to get us here [the Premier League], and he’ll stay at the club,” he said.
Coates saved his harshest criticism for referee Michael Jones, who he said had been wrong to dismiss Fuller at the Britannia Stadium.
“I’m not condoning it but can’t referees use discretion? I thought the referee could have handled it better. You see things far worse on the pitch all the time go unpunished,” he said.
“Let’s not get it out of proportion — it was hardly a punch like Muhammad Ali,” Coates said.
“Little incidents and spats happen all the time, on the pitch and on the training ground, we mustn’t forget that,” he said.