Bobby admits salute

Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski has admitted making an offensive salute towards Melbourne Knights fans - and apologised for his actions - but is still threatening to sue the club after some of its supporters attacked him.

Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski has admitted making an offensive salute towards Melbourne Knights fans but is still threatening to sue the club after some of its supporters attacked him.

The Knights fans - mostly from a Croatian background - claimed Despotovski incited them by making the three finger victory salute used by Serbian soldiers in the Balkans war.

He initially denied making a salute but television footage, highlighted first on Toyota World Sports, clearly showed him dragging three fingers across his chest.

The video prompted Despotovski to make an admission, and he apologised.

"After continual taunts throughout the match, I overreacted and made an uncomplimentary gesture. As a professional footballer I should have known better and I apologise wholeheartedly for my actions."

Despotovski says he feared he'd be killed in the attack.

Soccer Australia has launched a full inquiry and has promised to beef up security for the second leg of the elimination in Perth on Saturday.

Despotovski, a number of his teammates, coach Bernd Stange and security guards protecting the team were set upon by crazed Knights fans following the fiery 0-0 draw in the NSL elimination final first leg at Knights Stadium.

Despotovski returned home on Monday bruised, shaken and convinced he had been personally targeted by the Knights' Croatian fans because of his Serbian origins.

"I will be speaking to my lawyer about taking action against the Melbourne Knights and the people there," Despotovski said.

"That's the scariest thing that's ever happened to me, I feared for my life. All of a sudden there were 15 or 20 of them running down and started fighting with the security, someone hit me from behind and in my eye."

Despotovski, who has scored 18 goals this season, his best return for the Glory, said he was used to fans of the Sunshine club being vocal and abusive, but he'd never dreamed he would be attacked at a game.

"The people who support Melbourne Knights are ethnic and they're always going to be who they are," he said. "But it's never been this bad.

"How many times does this have to happen before Soccer Australia and Melbourne Knights do something about it?

"I want to play there again, but only if Soccer Australia and Melbourne Knights assure us we are going to play behind closed doors with no crowds and no violence and more security guards and police."

Despotovski intitally refuted claims that he had incited the violence with the racial salute but was forced into admitting it and making an apology after the television footage came to light.

"There's no salute, I've never heard such a thing," he said earlier yesterday.

Despotovski went on to say, "All that happened was after the game we saluted our crowd there and then went into the changeroom, nothing else."

"Nothing happened against their supporters, nothing happened against their players. At the end of the day it was politics, Serbs against Croats."

The incident has incited outrage from Perth fans. But Despotovski said he anticipated the Glory's fans would be on their best behaviour at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night.

Glory coach Bernd Stange, who has also vowed never to return to the Knights' stadium, described the riot as the worst act he'd seen in soccer.

"We got punched and kicked by a group of fanatical fans," he said. "It was a serious and dangerous situation for my players, it was terrible and soccer was the loser."

Stange also rejected claims the Glory players initiated the confontation and said he would defend his players.

"My players protected each other, it was war," he said. "It has nothing to do with sport, there are politics involved and ethnic war, violence and physical attacks are not allowed in soccer."
Source: Sportal