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banner Monday, 7 January, 2002, 14:33 GMT
Cardiff row rumbles on
Cardiff owner Sam Hammam
Sam Hammam's match antics angered David O'Leary
Leeds United manager David O'Leary has launched a renewed attack on Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam after their controversial FA Cup defeat - and criticised "weak" referee Andy D'Urso.

O'Leary was involved in a public row with Hammam after Cardiff's 2-1 third round win at Ninian Park, a disagreement that only ended when Leeds United chairman Peter Ridsdale stepped in.

He was angry that Hammam walked around the pitch, and in front of Leeds fans, in the closing stages of a match marred by missile throwing and a crowd invasion at the final whistle.

Hammam told O'Leary he had permission to walk around the perimeter of the pitch "from the highest authority in football" - but his claim cut no ice with the furious Leeds boss.

Volatile atmosphere

O'Leary also insisted the officials should have considered taking the players off amid the volatile atmosphere inside a packed Ninian Park.

He said: "I have taken a phone call from Sam Hammam. I have nothing against Sam Hammam - good luck to him and Cardiff because they won a good match - and he wanted to explain that he had approval to walk around the ground.

"I disagree with that, because before the game we were told that all the curtains inside our coach should be pulled across completely and that if we scored, our players shouldn't celebrate because it could cause a riot or cause people to come on the pitch.


I thought the referee was very weak on protecting the safety of the players - what Nigel Martyn was pelted with throughout the game was horrific
Leeds United manager David O'Leary

"I told Sam Hammam I didn't feel him walking around the ground helped the atmosphere in any way - and I feel I had every right to say that for the good of the game.

"I made the point that if we were playing Manchester United at Elland Road, what would happen if I started walking around the ground? I don't think it is called for."

O'Leary was also unhappy with referee D'Urso, claiming he failed to give his players adequate protection as he alleged they were pelted with missiles throughout the stormy Ninian Park encounter.

He said: "I thought the referee was very weak on protecting the safety of the players. What Nigel Martyn was pelted with throughout the game was horrific. Some of my players felt very threatened.

"The referee and the linesman, particularly the referee, are out there to protect the players, and if they don't feel it is right they should take the players off.

"We lost two fans going to a football match in Istanbul and I played in that ground for many years and it reminded me of that. We are trying to get this game right."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Leeds boss David O'Leary
"Some of my players felt very threatened"
Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam
"Every game I stand behind the goal"
Former FA chief Graham Kelly
"Pitches can't be allowed to become battle grounds"
Links to more FA Cup stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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