Suspended goalkeeper Charles Itandje has apologised for his disrespectful behaviour during the Hillsborough memorial service on Wednesday – but it really is a case of too little, far too late.
TV footage clearly showed Itandje fooling around during the service, incapable of conducting himself appropriately even for that short amount of time, the only time he’s been on duty in any form at Anfield this season.
The club announced his suspension in a brief statement: “Charles Itandje has now been officially suspended for 14 days by the club while we investigate his conduct during the Hillsborough Memorial Service.”
The club website also said Itandje had told to stay away from Melwood: “On the instructions of team manager Rafa Benitez, the French goalkeeper was told not to attend training yesterday as the club conducts an investigation into his actions during Wednesday’s memorial service at Anfield.”
The player’s apology was through the Liverpool Echo, who he told: “First of all, if my behaviour has caused offence to anyone then I can only apologise.
“I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. A thousand times, I am sorry. To the club, to the fans and especially to the families, I am deeply sorry. It was, of course, never my intention to offend or disrespect anyone.”
It’s difficult to work out what his intention was, but it certainly, clearly, wasn’t to show any respect to the ninety-six fans who died, to their families, and to the countless others who suffered unspeakable traumas that stay with them until this day.
It certainly seems he’s aware now of just why his actions were wrong: “The events at Hillsborough were a tragedy and in no way did I mean to disrespect the memory of what happened 20 years ago. I would never do that. I would like to speak to the families in person to offer my apologies to them because, like I said, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Itandje’s attitude has been called into question by fans for some time. Allegations have been made that he has over-indulged in the city’s nightlife during his time here, also dragging at least one of the club’s impressionable and once-promising youngsters into a world that is very-much removed from what a top club would expect from its professional sportsmen.
The club don’t stop their players from going out and having a good time – but it isn’t difficult to work out which nights are best spent in front of the TV and early to bed.
The allegations tie in with the reports that Rafa Benítez tried in the last two transfer window to offload the player – who hasn’t even had a place on the bench this season. These allegations first surfaced last season, when his rare performances left a lot to be desired, and included hints at his lateness or absence from training on more than one occasion.
On a handsome wage, a wage he gets whether he plays or not, Itandje has so far exercised his right to refuse any moves elsewhere, choosing instead to pick up that wage for doing very little at all.
Clubs are generally only allowed to fine players a maximum of two weeks’ wages. The fact Liverpool have announced an investigation alongside an immediate two week suspension has led to suggestions that they may be looking at ways to terminate his contract on the grounds of what in normal employment might be termed “gross misconduct”.
Only time will tell if this apology becomes his farewell message, but it’s difficult to envisage a situation where he would ever be welcomed onto the field again by Liverpool fans.
And those younger players said to have been taken in by the Frenchman, said to be risking their own careers by joining him in his frolics, would do well to reconsider their opinions of him if they want a career in football at any club, let alone Liverpool.