Eric Cantona Mask Tribute by Manchester United Fans Set to Rile Crystal Palace

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterFebruary 21, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25:  A Manchester United fan wearing an Eric Cantona mask shows his support during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 25, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Crystal Palace fans have reacted angrily to plans by some Manchester United supporters to wear Eric Cantona masks in tribute to the club icon when the sides clash in London this weekend.

Cantona is, of course, a hero at Old Trafford but is remembered at Selhurst Park for the extraordinary kung fu assault of a fan in the crowd in 1995.

25 JAN 1995:  ERIC CANTONA OF MANCHESTER UNITED IS INVOLVED IN A FIGHT WITH A FAN AFTER HE WAS SENT OFF DURING THE CRYSTAL PALACE V MANCHESTER UNITED MATCH AT SELHURST PARK. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/ALLSPORT
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Cantona was suspended for most of the year and had to perform community service after the incident.

Perhaps understandably, then, the plans tweeted by fans' group Stretford End Flags caused a stir: 

Lots of Cantona masks and flags will be taken to Palace on Saturday by #mufc fans. Worryingly, some masks look nothing like Eric!

— Stretford End Flags (@SEF_MUFC) February 20, 2014

The main concern behind the insensitivity relates to the death of a fan. United and Palace were later that season drawn in the FA Cup semi-final. Violence broke out between the two sets of fans before the match, and a Palace supporter by the name of Paul Nixon died.

Although they were two separate incidents, the bad blood between the sides began with the Cantona incident.

The problem lies in Man United fans who don't realise that the Eric Cantona incident resulted in the death of an innocent football fan

— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) February 20, 2014

Palace fanzine Five-Year Plan summed up the ill feeling: 

Celebrating the death of an innocent football fan? P-a-r-t-y RT @ManUtdFF: @FYPFanzine @SEF_MUFC is it not fairly obvious why?

— Five Year Plan (@FYPFanzine) February 20, 2014

According to a report by Paul Collins in the Daily Mail, United fans wearing Cantona masks when the sides last clashed in 2005 were refused entry.

That said, some fans were arguing that they don't see what the fuss is about:

are people seriously getting offended by United fans wearing Cantona masks?! get a grip!

— Phil Jonesinho (@carlm84_) February 21, 2014

Palace fans getting upset about a few Cantona masks? Seriously? how old are they? Grow up, they're only masks! #mufc

— Utd Before Fergie (@UtdBeforeFergie) February 21, 2014

Palace host United in the Saturday evening match at 5:30 p.m.