Dier, Cantona, Stokes and the spectacle of player-fan altercations

Sportspeople often have to deal with abuse from fans and sometimes, as in Eric Dier's case, they take the direct approach.

Eric Dier clambering over rows of seats to confront a fan after Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City was an extraordinary sight.

Eric Dier clambering over rows of seats to confront a fan after Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City was an extraordinary sight.   -  Getty Images

Eric Dier clambering over rows of seats to confront a fan after Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City was an extraordinary sight.

However, the spectacle was not without precedent, as sportspeople have come into conflict with supporters several times in the past.

While the 'professional' approach is to ignore the vitriol and insults that sometimes emanate from the crowd, there are occasions when instinct takes over.

With Dier likely facing punishment for his indiscretion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we take a look at other sports stars who chose the direct approach in dealing with troublesome fans.

CANTONA'S KUNG-FU KICK

It is possibly the most famous incident of its kind, perpetrated by a hot-headed Frenchman on a cold January night in London back in 1995.

Manchester United's Eric Cantona had just been sent off at Crystal Palace and was heading towards the tunnel when he heard a tirade of abuse from someone in attendance at Selhurst Park.

An incensed Cantona launched into a kung-fu kick, targeting Matthew Simmons – the man who, in his limited wisdom, had chosen to share his ill-considered views – before attempting to land a flurry of punches.

The Football Association banned Cantona for eight months, while he was sentenced to two weeks in jail – later reduced to 120 hours of community service – for his display of martial arts.

 

WESTBROOK READY TO THROW DOWN

Russell Westbrook stopped short of a physical altercation when he felt he had been subjected to some vile taunts during the Oklahoma City Thunders' win over Utah Jazz last March.

The nine-time NBA All-Star, now with Houston Rockets, was captured on film delivering an expletive-laden rant to a man and his wife, sat court-side at the Jazz's Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Westbrook snarled: "I'll f*** you up. You and your wife."

The Jazz issued a lifetime ban to one of the perpetrators for "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player".

Meanwhile, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA "for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan".

 

NO JOKE FOR STOKES

Ben Stokes uses controlled aggression very much to his advantage with bat and ball, but he let his anger get the better of him during a Test match in South Africa in January.

The England all-rounder was dismissed for two on the opening day at the Wanderers and was heard on a live broadcast aiming expletives at a spectator.

Stokes claimed to have been "subjected to repeated abuse", but later took to Twitter to say sorry for his "unprofessional" reaction.

He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council match referee.

 

MALICE AT THE PALACE

No, this isn't Cantona again, but it is arguably a more remarkable incident. The brawl that broke out between Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons in a 2004 NBA game was spectacular enough in itself, but then it got a whole lot crazier.

With the initial disorder beginning to calm, tensions flared again when a fan threw a drink at Pacers small forward Ron Artest, who made a beeline for his assailant. 

That prompted a wide-scale fracas involving players and spectators, with heavy sanctions for many involved.

The NBA dished out a combined 146-game ban for nine of the players, with five charged with assault, while five fans were hit by lifetime bans.

 

CLOUGH GETS TOUGH

Brian Clough was a notoriously no-nonsense football manager and he demonstrated that for all to see in memorable scenes at Nottingham Forest's City Ground in 1989.

With his Forest side having beaten QPR 5-2 to reach the last four of the League Cup, the home fans invaded the pitch to celebrate.

Clough, however, was in no mood to rejoice with them and instead chose to dish out a bit of rough justice, punching, slapping and grabbing anyone he could lay his hands on.

Two of his victims were later invited to the club for an apology – not from Clough, but for them to say sorry to him.

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