Ricardo Fuller, the Stoke City striker given a straight red card for slapping one of his teammates during yesterday's 2-1 defeat at West Ham, has claimed that the incident arose out of an innocent case of mistaken identity, it has been reported.
Fuller, who is Jamaican, struck the Potters' team captain Andy Griffin because, it's thought, he believed the skipper to be the brother of the British National Party (BNP) leader, Nick Griffin.
Stoke is a hotbed of BNP activity, where the party has managed to get nine of its members on the local council, and tensions are always on a knife-edge. So it was at Upton Park yesterday when Griffin allowed the Hammers' Carlton Cole in to score an equaliser.
Fuller slapped and punched Griffin, and the two scuffled, much to the amusement of the 34,000 fans.
Referee Michael Jones had no option but to send the black man off with a straight red card for assaulting a white man in public, and, with West Ham scoring a late winner, it was a miserable day for Stoke.
Last night, a rumour was circulating that the subject of the mistaken identity, the BNP leader Griffin, had said:
"Andy Griffin is not my brother, but in this instance, he is."