“Idiots. Scumbags. Disgrace.”
Those were the words of Roy Keane following the final whistle of Manchester City’s come from behind victory over Aston Villa to secure the Premier League trophy. But he wasn’t talking about the football; he was talking about the actions of fans, who assaulted Villa keeper Robin Olsen. Olsen took a hit to the back of the head, and footage captured 2 more moments as stewards escorted him off the pitch, with one fan accidentally clocking him around the head as filming the spectacle on his mobile, and another clearly shoving him.
Sadly, this was just one of a number of incidents during recent weeks during pitch invasions by fans:
- During a pitch invasion following Everton’s win over Crystal Palace (which secured the Toffees’ place in the league next season, assuming no penalties for questionable finances) a fan taunted Palace manager Patrick Viera, which led to the Frenchman apparently kicking out at the fan
- A Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for 24 weeks after headbutting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp following their play-off semi-final tie
- Swindon Town manager Ben Garner said his players were “physically and verbally abused” after their League Two play-off semi-final defeat by Port Vale
And that’s not even counting all the cases of people in the crowd throwing items at the players, or racist abuse. Or that absolute travesty we saw from England fans after the final of the Euros.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
It’s time for the FA, UEFA, FIFA and all other governing bodies to step up and take action, with a zero-tolerance approach. A fan’s place is in the stands, so anyone invading the pitch should get a lifetime ban, as should any fan found abusing players or throwing projectiles. Get them out of the grounds so that the people who love the game and will represent it in the right way are present.
But the punishment for clubs/national teams should be huge as well, in order to set a deterrent. Any misbehaviour from fans has to be punished. Fines must be much larger to actually impact these clubs ran by the richest men on earth. But more than that, it’s time to make playing in empty stadiums (or at least banning home fans) and points deductions (or being thrown out of the competition if a cup match) the norm for fans misbehaving. If every incident of fans misbehaving is going to result in a fine, a further financial hit by being forced to play a match without fans (an refunding any tickets out of their own books) and a points deduction/disqualification from a cup, then teams would suddenly put a lot more emphasis on controlling and improving the behaviour of it’s fans.
If something doesn’t change soon, the beautiful game will be forever tarnished by the ugliest of smears…