A massive pitch invasion during an Australian A-League match on Saturday forced a halt to the action.
Crosstown rivals Melbourne City hosted Melbourne Victory faced off as an already contentious crowd looked on. City was up 1-0 when the game had to be abandoned.
Fans from both sides went to AAMI Park with a preplanned protest set for the 20th minute of the match.
The groups were upset with the Australian Professional Leagues decision to sell Grand Final matches to Sydney. These matches are the final fixtures in the A-League’s season.
Goalkeeper at the center of the scene
Flares thrown onto the field were already an issue throughout the early stages of the match; however, incidents increased in the 20th minute. City goalkeeper Tom Glover picked up one flare that landed near him and tossed it back into the visiting Victory crowd. This set off a mass rush of fans onto the pitch.
Many Victory fans stormed the field and ran towards Glover. As stewards attempted to stop the chaos, the goalkeeper was struck in the head with a metal bucket.
Match referee Alex King was also reportedly hit in the head with a bucket as well. However, ESPN has claimed that his injuries are more minor. A cameraman was injured during the incident as well.
Filled with sand, the bucket was intended to help put out the flares. Glover was then seen leaving the field with a bloody face. The goalkeeper needed stitches and suffered a possible concussion.
Visiting club condemn actions
Following the terrible scenes, Victory made an official statement denouncing the decision of the fans. “Tonight, Melbourne Victory Football Club is devastated. The Club unequivocally condemns the actions of fans at Saturday night’s match against Melbourne City at AAMI Park,” read the statement.
“The Club would like to formally apologize to Tom Glover, match official, Alex King, and the camera operator as well as all players, officials and those who witnessed the appalling behavior.”
“This conduct will not be tolerated and the Club, along with AAMI Park, and Victoria Police, will undertake a full investigation into the incident.”
It was the first time in A-League history that a match had to be abandoned due to fan violence. Local police have said that there have not yet been any arrests, but an investigation is obviously still ongoing.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire
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