Soccer’s ‘darkest day’: Disgust and revulsion after violent pitch invasion

Tom Glover of Melbourne City is escorted from the pitch during the A-League Men's derby.

Tom Glover of Melbourne City is escorted from the pitch during the A-League Men's derby. Photo: AAP

Socceroos legend Mark Schwarzer has led a wave of prominent football figures and politicians condemning the actions of pitch invaders at the A-League Men Melbourne derby.

Many called for life bans to be slapped on fans from Melbourne Victory’s active area who stormed the AAMI Park pitch on Saturday night, injuring Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover and referee Alex King with a metal bucket.

The violence led to the match being abandoned in one of Australian football’s darkest episodes.

Victoria Police and Football Australia investigations have been launched, with the game’s governing body promising to hand out “the strongest sanctions that are available”.

“What is wrong with people? It happens time & time again,” goalkeeping great Schwarzer posted on Twitter.

Melbourne Victory fans invade the pitch. Photo: AAP

“We take a step forward & then 10 steps backwards, in this case 100 backwards .… minority of idiots cause untold damage to our sport far to often … name, shame, prosecute and ban for life those involved.

“Get these IDIOTS out of our game, they are not fans and they should never be allowed back ever again!”

Matildas captain and Chelsea superstar Sam Kerr wrote it was a “very sad day for football in Aus”, while Socceroos and Central Coast goalkeeper Danny Vukovic wrote “our game is in tatters”.

“An absolute disgrace what happened tonight,” Vukovic posted on Twitter.

“Irreparable damage done. Darkest day for football in Australia.”

Former Adelaide United striker and current Network 10 pundit Bruce Djite told AAP it was hard to see how Australian football could recover and said FA needed to “throw the library at Melbourne Victory”.

Fans hang from the goal posts. Photo: AAP

On Saturday night, both sets of fans had planned to walk out at the 20-minute mark as part of a protest towards the Australian Professional Leagues’ decision to sell the next three grand finals to Sydney, and had been throwing flares.

But the situation escalated when a flare hit and injured a Network 10 cameraman, then exploded when Glover picked up another flare off the ground and threw it back into the stands.

Fans then rushed the pitch and one threw the metal bucket, which hit Glover, who was concussed and required stitches, and King, who had a head gash.

Metal buckets were thrown in the chaos. Photo: AAP

The game was suspended for about 45 minutes then abandoned.

FA will issue Victory with a show cause notice as part of its investigation into the matter.

The club, which has been at the centre of crowd trouble in the past, faces the possibility of a financial penalty, points deduction or being forced to play matches behind closed doors.

Victory managing director Caroline Carnegie said it would be financially “devastating” if crowds were locked out but believes the club will overcome the latest setback.

“Victory is bigger than a group of fans that did the wrong thing,” Carnegie told reporters on Sunday.

Carnegie also said the “heartbroken” club was “appalled” by the actions of a section of the crowd.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and federal Sports Minister Anika Wells also condemned the violence.

“Victorians are well known for our love of sport – and for enjoying it safely and respectfully,” Mr Andrews posted on Twitter.

“The disgraceful actions by some at last night’s A-League game have no place in our sporting community – and no place in our state.”

Ms Wells has been in contact with Football Australia chief executive James Johnson and welcomed the governing body’s investigation into the matter.

“It’s a disgrace!”

-with AAP

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