Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

French official 'spat' at rugby photographer

Stephen Ferris
The French team has disputed the authenticity of this picture by Oliver McVeigh

A sports photographer from Northern Ireland was allegedly spat at during a rugby game over claims he "doctored" photos of an eye-gouging incident.

Oliver McVeigh took pictures of Stade Francais player David Attoub appearing to attack Ulster's Stephen Ferris during a game on 12 December.

Mr Attoub is still waiting to hear the outcome of disciplinary proceedings against him.

Mr McVeigh would not comment on his alleged abuse by a Stade official.

The alleged eye-gouging incident happened during Stade's 23-13 European Cup loss at Ravenhill.

Pictures analysed

Mr McVeigh was asked to submit his pictures to the European Club Rugby for analysis following French claims that they had been altered.

BBC rugby commentator Jim Neilly told BBC Radio Ulster that the photographer "was quite badly abused and actually spat upon by a French official in the Stade Francais ground at the weekend" referring to the second leg match in Paris on 20 December when Ulster suffered a 29-16 loss.

"They were saying that those photographs had been doctored and that is why he (Attoub) was suspended on an interim basis and there will be a proper hearing once they have had a really good look at the evidence which is being sent off I think to Manchester University," Mr Neilly said.

He added that if David Attoub is found guilty then he suspected that his ban could be as long as a year.

David Attoub's team-mate Julien Dupuy has already been found guilty of eye-gouging Stephen Ferris in the same game and has been banned for 24 weeks.

He has launched an appeal against his ban which the president of his club has described as "excessive" and "anti-French".

If the ban stands, the player will miss France's Six Nations campaign in February.

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