Roy Hodgson takes aim at Watford mascot after diving jibe against Wilfried Zaha 3 years ago

Roy Hodgson takes aim at Watford mascot after diving jibe against Wilfried Zaha

Seldom do you see a manager criticise his opponents' mascot

Roy Hodgson has warned Watford mascot Harry the Hornet against provoking Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha this Sunday.

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The mascot previously mocked Zaha after the winger was booked for simulation during a fixture at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day 2016. Harry the Hornet took a dive on the touchline after the game in an attempt to antagonise Zaha.

Then Palace manager Sam Allardyce labelled it "out of order", and current Palace boss Hodgson has called it "disgraceful".  Zaha reacted angrily at the time but later saw the funny side, tweeting the man who plays the role of mascot on Watford matchdays a picture of diving judges.

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But Hodgson has warned the mascot against repeating his provocative antics when the two teams meet on Sunday.

"Zaha does not dive," said Hodgson.

"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, because that's not what football matches are about.

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"And certainly if it's provoking the crowd into looking for something that's not there, it should be stopped."

Zaha has a record of making decisive contributions in matches against Watford: he drew the foul that won Palace the penalty to send them to the Premier League in 2013 and won another penalty at Vicarage Road in 2015 to hand Palace a 1-0 victory.

But the two most recent matches at Vicarage Road have seen Zaha cautioned for simulation, fuelling the notion that he dives.