The FA takes “strong action” after fan violence in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian soccer pledged strong and swift action with harsh penalties after an A-League soccer match between rivals Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory on Saturday after fans invaded the pitch and attacked City goalkeeper Tom Glover.

Video on social media A fan is shown throwing a metal bucket with a white substance at Glover, who is carried off the field dazed and bleeding.

Match referee Alex King also suffered a head injury in the same incident, and a television cameraman was injured by a torch thrown from the stands.

“We will move quickly and take the strongest sanctions available,” James Johnson, the federation’s chief executive, told reporters on Sunday. “This is an element that goes beyond football. It is an element that infiltrates our game and really tries to destroy it for the two million people who love our sport.

“These are the people we are going to target in this investigation and we are going to get rid of the sport.”

Johnson said victory would be issued with a cause-and-effect notice and that the FA was also considering the outcome of the match, which City led 1-0 after the 20-minute mark at AAMI Stadium when fans were from the Melbourne Victory area. From the stadium he rushed to the field. The match was stopped and shortly thereafter abandoned by the officials.

The Victorian State Police investigation is still ongoing, although no arrests had been reported by Sunday, while the Raiders face a possible life ban.

There was a tense atmosphere to the start of the match with both groups of fans planning to leave the match at the 20-minute mark as part of a protest against the Australian professional leagues, which had recently awarded their next three grand final matches to Sydney in a deal with the New South Wales state government.

Both groups of fans began to chant insults immediately after the conclusion of the previous A-League women’s game. Al-Nasr and City fans also raised banners indicating their dissatisfaction with the APL and its decision regarding the championship matches.

Both sets of fans were throwing flares into the stadium but the situation escalated when a flare appeared to hit a TV cameraman. Glover later picked up another flare from the ground and threw it back into the stands.

Fans then rushed onto the field and Glover was hit by the metal bucket used to dispose of the torches. Glover began bleeding from a head wound and was carried off the field, along with players from both teams.

Team officials later said that Glover received stitches to his head wound on the floor before being taken to a hospital where he was cleared of further injuries.

Melbourne Victory managing director Caroline Carnegie said the club had been “devastated” by the incident.

“I am ashamed and appalled by what happened last night,” Carnegie told reporters on Sunday. “We’ve tried to work with our fans in a number of different ways to make sure they can be here to support the club and do it the right way.

“I think last night showed us that we’ve reached a point in time where maybe what we were doing wasn’t working as well as we’d like it to be and we can’t look away from it.

Victory could face a fine or points deduction – or fans could be locked out of stadiums – but Johnson will not indulge in the penalties that Australian Football League will impose on the club before the investigation is concluded.

The incident came two weeks after Australia advanced to the round of 16 in the World Cup in Qatar, before losing 2-1 to Argentina, in its strongest performance ever in the tournament.

Members of the FIFA World Cup squad Craig Goodwin, who scored the first goal in Australia’s 4-1 defeat to France in the tournament, and Danny Vukovic expressed their displeasure via tweets.

“Very disappointing. No matter what happened, that’s not the way to fight back and it only gives the game a bad look.” Goodwin said.

Vukovic said: “Our game is in tatters… A huge disgrace what happened tonight. Irreparable damage was done. The darkest day for football in Australia.”


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