Fans storm an Australian football match and attack the goalkeeper
Australian soccer has promised “severe penalties” after the A-League men’s Melbourne derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory was abandoned to ensure players’ safety after a violent stadium invasion.
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Planning to stage a walkout in the 20th minute to protest the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) officials, both groups of fans began throwing flares at the AAMI Park playing surface before walking out, with one appearing to hit a camera operator for broadcaster Network Ten.
Fans lit flares and small fireworks during the previous 20 minutes, with City fans throwing a number of projectiles onto the pitch in celebration of Eden O’Neill’s opening goal in the 11th minute.
This set in motion an escalating chain of events that saw City goalkeeper Tom Glover, attempting to clear a shell that had landed near him off the field, throw a flare out of the field and back into the Victory fans, which then led to a group of fans storming out. On the pitch in scenes reminiscent of the violence between Nice and Marseille in 2021.
As fans stormed towards his position, Glover was then hit in the head with a metal bucket filled with sand designed to extinguish flares thrown in his direction and was rushed off the field with blood oozing from the side of his head.
Referee Alex King also sustained a gash on the head from a thrown bucket, while the match referee’s coach was pushed against the fence.
A Football Australia spokesperson described King as more shaken than hurt and he and his fellow officials were escorted to their cars by security to exit the stadium.
City officials said Glover required stitches and was suspected of suffering a concussion after the accident.
Soon both groups of players and coaching staff, as well as match officials, swarmed off the field, while the fans who remained on the roof shifted their focus to attacking the sponsor’s scoreboards and goals before being herded off the field by members. From the Victoria Police Public Order Response Team.
After a long delay, the match was then canceled to ensure the player’s safety, the first time a League One match had been canceled for this reason.
The planned protests were in response to APL’s decision to sell the hosting rights to the next three World Cups in Sydney as part of a partnership with Destination NSW.
Demonstrations had already taken place at the men’s Premier League and Women’s League matches already taking place this weekend, but all were of a peaceful nature.
“The men’s Premier League match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park has been abandoned as a result of the pitch invasion by Melbourne Victory fans, and subsequent injuries to Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover and match official Alex King,” the leagues statement said.
The Australian Professional League (APL) is coordinating with Australian Football on the implications of these events.
Australian leagues are run independently of Australian Football, but the national association remains the regulator of the game and enforces a national code of conduct.
“After shocking scenes during the first half of the Men’s A-League match between Melbourne Victory FC and Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday 17 December, as Melbourne Victory fans entered the field of play, Australian Football League officials said the match was abandoned according to Law 5.3 of the Laws of the Game in order to protect the integrity of the match.
“Such behavior has no place in Australian football, with a full investigation into Australian football being initiated immediately, where heavy penalties will be imposed.”
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