The Cantona Conundrum: When athlete and fan clashes turn physical

Manchester United legend is only the most high-profile battle between a sportsman and a supporter

Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest fighting with a fan during a a brawl at a game against the Detroit Pistons, in Auburn Hills, Michigan (AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File)

"Oh my goodness me! He's just kicked, he's just punched a fan! Eric Cantona has jumped in and scissor kung-fu kicked a fan!"

Add commentator Jonathan Pearce's piercing yell and the sentence above from January 25th 1995 becomes even more dramatic.

Pearce had been in mid-sentence about whether Cantona deserved a place in the game after his red card against Crystal Palace that day before launching himself into a verbal scissor kung-fu kick of his own at the sight of the Manchester United icon jumping into the crowd to confront Matthew Simmons:

That incident at Selhurst Park was followed by a court case and a lengthy ban which kept him out of football until October when he did resume his career.

But he is not the only sportsman who has clashed with a supporter.

Ron Artest

The ex-Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls star who also goes by the name of Metta World Peace ended up wading his way into the crowd to confront a fan who he believed had thrown a cup of Diet Coke at him after a brawl had broken out in an infamous 2004 NBA game between Detroit Pistons and his own Indiana Pacers:

 Reggie Smith

Like Cantona, the former Major League Baseball star dived into the crowd to fight a San Francisco Giants fan as a result of taunts, with this incident occurring in 1981.

 In this Sept. 25, 1981, file photo, police and security guards take a brawling baseball fan into custody, center, as other Los Angles Dodgers are splashed with beer, lower right, during a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The Dodgers' Reggie Smith, not shown, had gone into the stands and was ejected. The Giants and Dodgers and their fans have one of the longest and most passionate rivalries in American baseball, beginning with their first meeting as National League rivals in 1891 and following both teams to California in the 1950s. (AP Photo/Robert H. Houston, File)

 Eran Zahavi

Derbies can often be flashpoints on and off the pitch, and the Tel Aviv derby was no different in 2014 when Maccabi and Israel international striker Eran Zahavi retaliated after he was attacked by a Hapoel fan.

Given the aggression of the supporter, Zahavi could count himself a little unfortunate to be sent off as he had no choice but to defend himself: