French soccer star Eric Cantona was sentenced to two weeks in jail today (Thursday) for assaulting a fan during a soccer match in January.
Cantona's teammate, Paul Ince , also faces a possible jail sentence if he's convicted of assaulting another fan.
Cantona has been released on bail and is appealing the sentence.
Eric Cantona walked into court this morning looking defiant- but once inside he pled guilty to common assault for kicking a fan, and apologised.
Following in his footsteps, his teammate, Paul Ince, pled innocent to a similar offence and will stand trial in May.
Cantona- the French soccer star who plays for the U-K team, Manchester United- was sentenced to two weeks in jail for kicking a fan during a game January 25.
As these file pictures show- as Cantona was leaving the field after being sent off for a foul, he vaulted over advertising boards and landed a flying two-footed kick on the fan's chest.
The fan had run down 11 rows to taunt Cantona. The fan is due to appear before the same court tomorrow (Friday) to answer a charge of threatening behaviour.
Cantona said the fan made obscene gestures and shouted abusive language referring to Cantona's French nationality.
The head magistrate said the court took into account Cantona's apology, his previous good character and guilty plea.
The magistrate told Cantona he was looked up to by many young people. She said for that reason the only sentence that was appropriate for the offence was two weeks imprisonment.
The court has been accused of using double standards. Earlier this month, another soccer player was sentenced to three months in jail for assaulting a taxi driver. He was released on bail pending an appeal.
Cantona and Ince had to push their way through hordes of
reporters, photographers and television crews to enter and leave the Croydon Magistrates Court in south London. Nearly 20 police officers were on duty to keep order.
Cantona was taken to police cells in the court building while his lawyers sought his release on bail.
Ince has not been punished by his club or the Football Association.
Cantona, however, was immediately suspended by his club until the end of the season and fined 20-thousand pounds (32-thousand dollars). The Football Association later banned him from playing until October and fined him 10-thousand pounds (16-thousand dollars).
Cantona has also lost his place on the French national team.
Cantona was visibly tired when he finally left the court this afternoon after paying 500 pounds (about 800 dollars) bail. He was applauded and congratulated by fans.
At a press conference called by Manchester United, Cantona's attorney praised him for his poise.
"Well, as we said, he has behaved with calm and dignity to it. He was clearly upset and was concerned about his wife and his son."
SUPER CAPTION: Maurice Watkins, Manchester United lawyer
Cantona's appeal against his sentence has been set for a week from Friday.