Football Australia has promised “strong sanctions” will be imposed after an Australian A-League Men’s Melbourne Derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory was abandoned to ensure player safety following a violent pitch invasion.
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Both sets of fans planned to stage a strike in the 20th minute to protest against the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) administrators. broadcaster Network Ten.
Fans had lit flares and small fireworks for the last 20 minutes, with City fans hurling a number of projectiles onto the pitch in honor of Aiden O’Neill’s 11th-minute opener.
That was the start of a spiraling chain of events in which City goalkeeper Tom Glover, attempting to clear a projectile that had landed off the pitch alongside him, threw a flare off the pitch and hurled it back into the Victory supporters, which then led to a mob of storming fans. onto the pitch in scenes reminiscent of the violence between Nice and Marseille in 2021.
As fans charged to his position, Glover was then hit in the head by a metal bucket filled with sand, intended to extinguish flares hurled in his direction and was rushed off the field with blood pouring out the side of his head.
Referee Alex King also suffered a gash to the head from the thrown bucket, while the game’s umpire coach was pushed against the fence.
A Football Australia spokesperson described King as more shocked than hurt, and he and his fellow officials were escorted to their cars by security to leave the stadium.
City officials said Glover needed stitches and had a suspected concussion after the incident.
Both sets of players and coaching staff, as well as the match officials, then quickly left the field, while the fans who remained on the surface turned their attention to attacking the sponsorship boards and goals before being taken off the field by members. of the Victoria Police Public Order Response Team.
After a lengthy delay, the game was subsequently abandoned to ensure player safety, the first time an A-Leagues game had been called off for such a reason.
The planned protests were in response to APL’s decision to sell hosting rights for the next three Grand Finals to Sydney as part of a partnership with Destination NSW.
There had already been demonstrations at the A-League Men and A-League Women games that had already taken place that weekend, but they were all peaceful.
“The A-League Men match between Melbourne City FC and Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park has been abandoned due to the pitch invasion by Melbourne Victory fans and the subsequent injuries of Melbourne City FC goalkeeper Tom Glover and match official Alex King.” said an A-Leagues statement.
“The Australian Professional League (APL) is coordinating with Football Australia on the impact of these events.”
The Australian A-Leagues are run independently of Football Australia, but the national federation remains the regulator of the game and enforces a national code of conduct.
“Following shocking scenes during the first half of the A-League Men’s match between Melbourne Victory FC and Melbourne City FC at AAMI Park on Saturday 17th December, as Melbourne Victory FC fans entered the field of play, Football Australia match officials have called the match discontinued in accordance with Law 5.3 of the Laws of the Game to protect the integrity of the match,” Football Australia said in a statement.
“Such behavior has no place in Australian football, and a full investigation by Football Australia will commence immediately, where severe sanctions will be imposed.”