London (AFP) – Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has issued an unusual warning for Watford mascot Harry the Hornet to behave himself during Sunday’s Premier League fixture at Vicarage Road.
Following the final whistle of their 1-1 draw in 2016, the Watford mascot dived on the pitch, taunting Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, who had been booked for simulation.
Ivory Coast star Zaha, who won the penalty that settled a Championship playoff final between the two clubs in 2013, said there was an “agenda” against him after he was again booked for diving in a goalless draw at Watford in April this year.
Hodgson has insisted he would never let a Palace mascot do anything as incendiary as what happened at Watford in December 2016 — and also claimed that Zaha does not dive.
“If you’re asking me whether Harry the Hornet, who I presume is the mascot, should dive in that way, I think it’s disgraceful,” said Hodgson. “Because that’s not what football matches are about.
“And certainly if it’s provoking the crowd into looking for something that’s not there, it should be stopped.”
“Wilf Zaha does not dive for penalties, he gets knocked over sometimes, sometimes he gets knocked over or unbalanced without it being a penalty or a foul, because he runs at such speed and has such agility with the ball. But he certainly doesn’t dive.
“But of course teams try to take every advantage they can.”