Have you ever pretended to do something at work that later got you into a whole heap of trouble as a result?
Perhaps you thought it would be a good idea to pretend to be ill over the phone when ringing in sick, or maybe you thought it wise to pretend to go out on a client meeting but actually you went shopping with a friend?
Whatever you did, nothing would have caused quite as much of a stir as Liverpool FC footballer Robbie Fowler did when he pretended to snort cocaine after scoring a goal in a Merseyside derby against old rivals Everton.
Fans that were present at the 1999 match witnessed the England footballer kneel down in front of rival supporters after his first goal from the penalty spot. He then placed a finger onto the side of his nose and appeared to sniff the touchline. Fowler, whose actions were witnessed by millions of viewers on television, had been the target of unfounded allegations of drug-taking and his apparent mimicry of cocaine snorting drew widespread criticism from within the game.
“Despite my actions being taken in the heat of the moment immediately following the penalty, I realise that they have caused great offence and I deeply regret that,” Fowler said in a statement after the match. “I have been greatly distressed and hurt over the last few years by the constant allegations levelled against me regarding drug use, which have not only affected me but have been very upsetting to my family as well. But as an international player and a public figure, I have responsibilities and a duty to rise above such scurrilous accusations and I accept that my behaviour yesterday was totally wrong. I would never do anything intentionally to undermine the work being done to combat the suffering and social problems that drug abuse brings to users and their families or to drug awareness campaigns. I would like to say sorry to the Liverpool and Everton fans who attended the derby game and have also apologised to my manager, Gerard Houllier, and team-mates for my behaviour.”
Then Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier defended his player by stating that he was merely imitating “a cow eating grass,” a statement which drew a scathing reaction from PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor who said: “It’s not the sort of celebration you want to see, and it’s the sort of thing where the manager should say, `Okay, Robbie, you’ve made your point but don’t do it again.’ There’s too many bad connotations. I think you’ve got to say, `Look, it’s obvious what he’s doing, okay, you know why he’s done it, we don’t want him doing it again’. Let’s approach it that way but not try to say it’s something it wasn’t.”
The Football Supporters’ Association also condemned Fowler’s actions and called for the game’s leading players to behave in a more responsible manner.
Have a look at the video below and ask yourself what would happen if you imitated snorting cocaine after performing well at work. It’s fair to say that you’d probably find yourself in at least as much trouble as Mr. Fowler was on this particular occasion.