THE mother of a young fan has criticised Premiership footballer El Hadji Diouf for not apologising for spitting water at her son.

James Shields was 11 when the Bolton striker covered him in water as he left the pitch, following his substitution during a game against Middlesbrough last November.

The 24-year-old Senegalese international pleaded guilty through his solicitor to a public order offence at Teesside Magistrates' Court yesterday, when new evidence showed there was no intent to soak the youngster.

In mitigation, Diouf's solicitor, Alan Walsh, told the hearing his client accepted he spat the water in the dugout but had expected a plastic surround to prevent the fluid hitting anyone.

He claimed Diouf spat after he had been subjected to torrents of abuse throughout the game and as he left the field.

Mr Walsh persuaded District Judge Mike Woods to sentence Diouf in his absence, claiming it would diffuse a potential media scrum.

Judge Woods fined Diouf £500 for causing harassment, alarm and distress and ordered him to pay £500 court costs. But he dismissed the possibility of a three-year football banning order being imposed.

The victim's mother, Barbara Shields, 48, of Colliers Green, Middlesbrough, last night demanded an apology from the star and his club.

"James is okay and we are pleased that the player has been punished, but he just wants to know why nobody has said sorry for what happened," said the mother-of-five.

"I think James would have just walked away after what happened, but there were lots of people around him who could not believe what had happened and said he should complain."

Mrs Shields described Diouf's decision earlier this year to claim legal aid as shocking and annoying, and claimed he should have paid the court costs himself.

"This man earns £40,000 a week," she said. "Surely he could afford to pay his own legal bills?

"If only he had apologised and accepted what was wrong, we might not have got to this stage.

"But he seems to be like so many footballers with such vast riches - arrogant."

Judge Woods told the court earlier it was every person's right to apply for Legal Aid, regardless of their income.

Rob Nichols, editor of Boro fanzine Fly Me to the Moon, said: "I think the fact that he has been fined is not as important as the publicity he has received.

"This shows that the message is getting across that footballers cannot behave in that way.

"What somebody does on the pitch can affect what happens on the terraces - these people are role models to thousands of youngsters, whether they like it or not, and they have got to act responsibly."

The footballer, and Bolton Wanderers Football Club, refused to comment last night.