IN 2014, shortly after serial biter Luis Suarez had clearly bitten Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match broadcast all around the globe, the Uruguayan attempted to explain away the incident to FIFA’s disciplinary committee by saying: “I lost my balance and ended up falling on my opponent. At that moment, my face hit the player leaving a small bruise and sharp pain in the teeth.”

Until now, Suarez’s bare-faced attempt at absolving himself of blame for taking a chunk from Chiellini’s shoulder was considered perhaps the worst excuse ever wheeled out by a player for their misconduct. Enter Leigh Griffiths and Dundee Football Club.

In case you missed it, Griffiths was filmed booting a smoke bomb back into the St Johnstone support from whence it came following the opening Saints goal in their win over Dundee in Wednesday night’s League Cup quarter final.

After the predictable furore this caused, Dundee released a joint statement by the club and Griffiths yesterday to address the issue.

“It was regrettable that the pyrotechnic ended up back in the stand as my intention was just to remove it from the pitch,” said Griffiths, apparently discounting the fact that he gave it the same sort of welly as he did to that second free-kick against England.

“Having just lost a goal I was eager to get the match restarted as quickly as possible and I would like to apologise for any distress caused by this action.”

Bingo. As if the excuse wasn’t bad enough, there, hot on its heels, is the non-apology. Not sorry for doing it, because of course that would imply intent on his part, but sorry for the distress caused. These are the same sort of mealy-mouthed words offered up when someone apologises for any offence taken by the incredibly offensive thing they have said, rather than apologising for saying it in the first place.

In communications, there is often a reluctance to leave a vacuum, lest it be filled by speculation. But in this case, it may have been better to remain silent and be assumed guilty, rather than open their mouths and remove much of the doubt.

Thankfully, the distress caused by the incident was minor, and no one appears to have been injured by the smoke bomb coming flying into an area that - for all Griffiths knew - could have contained children or elderly fans.

Now, there is obviously an issue to address in that a smoke bomb was there in the first place to be kicked, and the fan who threw it onto the field should also face punishment if identified. And admittedly, the cries of ‘paedo, paedo’ towards Griffiths in reference to the recent investigation into alleged messages he sent to schoolgirls (in which he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, incidentally), were distasteful to say the least.

None of this though excuses the behaviour of Griffiths. We have all been at a match where a player endures all sorts of sickening abuse at the hands of supporters who are suddenly overcome with moral outrage when a player has the temerity to have a little bite back. But this wasn’t Griffiths slyly flicking the vickies at a rival fanbase. He ballooned a smoke canister indiscriminately into a large group of people.

I have been a defender of Griffiths at various points in the past. How he fought back after his off-field issues was commendable. He is clearly a hugely talented player, who could arguably have made much more of that talent had he been more dedicated to his profession. On a personal level, he is always courteous and polite.

It is getting harder to recall though the last time I heard his name being discussed for his goalscoring exploits, and not being followed by the words ‘is subject to a police investigation’.

It’s such a pity. Whatever comes of the latest inquiries into his conduct, it almost seems pointless to lay out the hope that this time perhaps, the penny will drop, and Griffiths will be able to get his faltering career back on some sort of track.

The move to Dens Park would have been designed to do just that. To take him out of the Glasgow goldfish bowl and allow him to concentrate on his football at a smaller club. He may have been removed a little from the spotlight, but with fans back in grounds, there was never going to be any hiding place for Griffiths.

At Tannadice and now at Dens Park against St Johnstone, he has got the full treatment from supporters. But what did he expect? If he can’t handle the sort of abuse that was inevitably going to come his way following the incident in the summer without reacting in such a manner, then there is a decision to be made over whether he is placed in such a position.

When studying the footage, it very much looks to this observer as if Griffiths takes a temper tantrum due to the chants coming from the away crowd, and boots the smoke bomb right at them. Only Griffiths knows for sure. Let’s make that clear.

But the police investigation, and inevitably the football authorities’ own disciplinary procedures, will look to establish the truth of the matter.

Unfortunately, this time for Griffiths, there can surely be no excuses.