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Friday, December 1, 2023
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Australian football club sanctioned after pitch invasion

MELBOURNE (AP) – The Melbourne Victory football club has been prevented from selling tickets to home games and fans cannot attend away matches under Football Australia’s preliminary sanctions for a violent pitch invasion.

The Victory were put on notice after 150 spectators stormed the AAMI Park pitch in last Saturday’s A-League match against Melbourne City, forcing the match to be abandoned.

City goalkeeper Tom Glover sustained a concussion and facial lacerations when he was hit with a metal bucket wielded by a pitch invader. Referee Alex King, a television cameraman and two security guards were also injured.

Football Australia (FA) has not fully determined final sanctions but has put yesterday’s temporary measures in place until January 15.

During that time, Victory fans are barred from attending their away men’s Monday match with Western United at AAMI Park. Only United members and fans who had bought a ticket before 11am Friday can attend, with other tickets to be refunded.

Victoria Police earlier confirmed plans include “a highly visible police presence” at the game.

Victory fans also cannot attend away men’s games against Central Coast on New Year’s Eve or Adelaide United on January 14.

Melbourne Victory fans invade the pitch. PHOTO: AP

Football Australia Chief Executive James Johnson said there will be additional sanctions.

“There will be a mixture of financial and sporting measures that would be in addition to these immediate sanctions that would come into force in the next one to two weeks,” Johnson said.

“We did feel that if we had a blanket ban, not only would we be specifically targetting those individuals whose behaviour is unacceptable, but we would also be targeting the many families in particular who are very good fans and who we welcome to football.”

Victoria Police confirmed 29 persons have been arrested or charged over the pitch invasion, with 24 – including 11 men aged between 18 and 38 dealt with on Friday – so far facing charges. A total of 36 people have so far been identified by police.

FA has also handed out bans preventing the pitch invaders from attending or participating in football. Two pitch invaders on Tuesday received life bans, while on Thursday eight more people were handed bans of between five and 20 years.

About USD100,000 worth of damage was caused to AAMI Park during the pitch invasion and about 80 flares or fireworks were set off, police said.


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