Go easy on Didier: Scolari defends Chelsea striker and says: Find the coin-throwing fan

Luiz Felipe Scolari has provocatively chosen to defend Didier Drogba and demanded that the police root out the fan who sparked an incident by throwing a coin at the Chelsea striker.

Drogba was charged with violent conduct by the FA yesterday for throwing the coin back at Burnley supporters during Wednesday's Carling Cup match at Stamford Bridge, which Chelsea lost on penalties.

Didier Drogba

Flashpoint: Didier Drogba (right) of Chelsea appears to throw an object at Burnley fans

He has until Monday to respond but is unlikely to contest the charge having already apologised. He is free to play against West Bromwich Albion today.

On Tuesday, an FA disciplinary  commission will consider the case and are expected to impose a threematch ban and warn him about his future behaviour. A police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Drogba also flipped his middle finger at the crowd but Chelsea manager Scolari backed his centre forward, calling for police to track down the fan who hurled the coin. He said: 'Didier went to the pitch to play. He didn't put coins in his pocket. People, the police, the FA, they have to think about this.

'He was happy to score a goal and he wasn't starting anything. Whatever the FA or the police decide, that finishes it, but Didier didn't go out on to the pitch to fight. He went out to play. He apologised after the game. I want the police to find out who was the man who threw that. After this, we'll look at what happens. I'm not a judge.'

Burnley chairman Barry Kilby promised the club would help catch the culprit. He said: 'We are proud of the 6,100 fans who made the trip to Stamford Bridge and offered magnificent vocal backing. But we take seriously any incident that might tarnish our good name and if the culprit who allegedly threw a coin can be identified, the club will act with the utmost severity.'

Didier Drogba

Who, me ref?: Drogba is booked for over-celebrating by referee Keith Stroud, who insists he would have sent the striker off had he seen him throw the coin.

Football's image has been bruised this week, with Drogba's antics coming after Ipswich's David Norris celebrated a goal with a 'handcuffs' gesture, allegations of Hull players brawling in a nightclub, Sheffield United's Chris Morgan accused of a deliberate elbow and Walsall's Ishmel Demontagnac sacked after his arrest last week.

But Scolari believes English football is healthy. He said: 'I have seen many crazy things. In England, the game is a party. I look and there are 40,000 people singing. It is fantastic, beautiful. England can give this example to the world.'

Frank Lampard also spoke out in support of his team-mate. 'If Didier gets banned, are fans going to do this more to provoke people?' said Lampard, who was also targeted by a coin during the Burnley game.

'I take quite a lot of corners and it's not unusual to get things thrown at you and lots of abuse and it's got to stop. We've seen referees get hit so people have to take responsibility as a group.'

The pleas of Lampard and Scolari will not get Drogba off the hook. A three-match ban will rule him out of games against Newcastle, Arsenal and Bolton but injury-hit Chelsea were relieved to see the case pushed into next week.

Scolari is without Joe Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Alex, Juliano Belletti, Franco di Santo and Petr Cech, while Deco is doubtful. Ashley Cole and Michael Ballack have been rushed back after injuries to sit on the bench.

The injury problems beg the question about Scolari's decision to operate with a squad of 24 players but he has no regrets and understands he cannot spend in January unless he sells first. 'Money is a problem all over the world at the moment,' said Scolari. 'We are at a big club who pay well and we all need to say "Thank you, God" because other teams don't pay so well.'

Chelsea have been beaten three times in three different competitions in the last six games but they travel to West Bromwich seeking to set a new club and Premier League record of 10 successive away wins.

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