BILEL Mohsni remained defiant and unrepentant after having his suspension for his astonishing post-match meltdown at Fir Park last month extended to seven games by a SFA Judicial Panel at Hampden.
The Tunisian international defender unexpectedly appeared in person at the hearing into the excessive misconduct charge against him for kicking and punching Motherwell striker Lee Erwin following Rangers’ 3-0 defeat in the second leg of the Premiership play-off final.
The additional three-match ban imposed by the panel yesterday, on top of the automatic four-match suspension incurred by Mohsni for his red card for violent conduct at the time, was relatively lenient as the panel opted for a sanction from the lower end of a scale which allows as much as a 16-game ban to be dished out in such cases.
The automatic four-match ban for Mohsni was imposed as a result of two prior offences of violent conduct in the same season – a two-match suspension for head-butting Derby County striker Chris Martin in a friendly and then a three-match ban for striking Hibs defender Liam Fontaine.
But Mohsni emerged afterwards to brand the panel’s ruling as “harsh” and complain about the lack of further action against Erwin. The striker, who has since left Motherwell to sign for Leeds United, shoved Mohsni in the back after his offer of a handshake was refused.
Mohsni reacted furiously, kicking Erwin and then landing a punch which left the 21 year old bleeding from the mouth. Erwin was booked by referee Craig Thomson after the match.
“If you try to wind me up then yeah, I will react. This is my character”Bilel Mohsni
“I’m upset by this and even more by the fact I received seven games and Erwin received zero,” said Mohsni. “It’s very harsh, but this is life.
“If you see everything on the video, it is clear if he had not pushed me I’d have gone away and would be back in France on holiday right now, not coming back to Glasgow for a hearing.
“This is how it is now. We don’t punish the one who acts, but we punish the one who reacts. Every time it is me who reacts and every time it is me who gets a big punishment. This is my life in football – I’m used to it.
“When I ask all of the people I know what they would do, they all tell me they would react the same way. Because when someone pushes you from the back, it’s like an attack, so you defend yourself. All I did was defend myself. It’s not about my anger, it’s about how I react. I reacted because I received aggression. That’s normal.
“People try to wind me up because they know they are not better than me. I can say this to any striker in the world. Take me on and if you are better than me I will shake your hand and say ‘well done’. But if you try to wind me up then yeah, I will react. This is my character. I will not change. When you attack me I will defend myself, always.”
Mohsni was among 11 out-of-contract players released by Rangers in the aftermath of their 6-1 aggregate defeat by Motherwell in the play-off final.
The 27 year old’s career is now uncertain. His agent has already stated he will not play in British football again, while the seven-match ban may also be applied by any association elsewhere in the world.
“You know what? I don’t care anymore,” added Mohsni. “If a manager trusts me, I will be happy to play for him. If no-one trusts me, it’s okay. I will find a job and work.”
He was also critical of Stuart McCall who, as interim manager of Rangers, declared immediately after the match at Fir Park that Mohsni would not play for the club again. McCall has since lost out to Mark Warburton on landing the job on a permanent basis.
“[Previous manager] Ally McCoist trusted me and I did very well under him,” claimed Mohsni. “I scored 12 goals from centre-back. But McCall didn’t trust me, even when he didn’t have the job. That was disappointing, very disappointing.
“He didn’t think I was good enough to play for him. I played against Queen of the South when we lost 3-0 and he blamed me for the game. So I was like, ‘Wow, this manager doesn’t like me. Okay, no problem’.
“But when I heard what he said after the play-off, I was like ‘Wow, wow, wow’. Normally every manager protects their player, whether they are wrong or not. Him? He didn’t have a job and he was still like ‘I’m not going to re-sign him’. But he didn’t have the job so why is he speaking? After 31 May both of us were out of a job, so it was not his business to speak about me.”