IT takes a special kind of moron to assault a goalkeeper who’s just let in three goals in five minutes, so your team wins the Premier League.
Manchester City fans should have been chanting Robin Olsen’s name in delight and demanding he get the freedom of the city and a statue outside the Etihad stadium.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted by Man City fans in disgraceful scenes yesterdayCredit: Getty
The goalie is helped off the pitch after being deliberately struck at least three times in the chaotic aftermath of City’s title win
Piers Morgan says dangerous pitch invaders must be stopped – before a player ends up being killed
Instead, Olsen was deliberately struck at least three times in the immediate chaotic aftermath of the final whistle as thousands in the delirious crowd stormed the pitch.
The video of the intimidation he experienced is frightening.
He was left completely defenceless to the wild mob charging around him, fending off blows as several stewards desperately try to get him to safety.
Shamefully, this wasn’t even the worst fan attack on a player in the past week.
Last Tuesday night, a boozed-up Nottingham Forest thug charged across the pitch and headbutted visiting captain, and former Forest star, Billy Sharp.
The footage makes it very clear he did it on purpose, and Sharp – who wasn’t playing due to injury, so was standing on the touchline – was lucky to escape with just a sore bruised head and a few stitches. People have died from headbutts like that in the street.
Sharp’s attacker, Robert Biggs, 30, was jailed for 24 weeks and ordered to pay £500 compensation to Sharp.
“Cases such as this will hopefully serve as a deterrent to anyone thinking of getting involved in violent disorder at football matches,” said assistant chief constable Rob Griffin of Nottinghamshire Police.
Last week Sheffield United striker – and former Nottingham Forest star – Billy Sharp, was headbutted by a Forest fanCredit: Ruckas
Sharp was lucky to escape with a sore bruised head and a few stitchesCredit: PA
His attacker, Robert Biggs, 30, was jailed for 24 weeks and ordered to pay £500 compensation to SharpCredit: PA
But will they?
Mitchell received a 14-week prison sentence but got released after just four weeks and later declared it was “the best month of my life”, adding: “I’m not apologising for nothing.”
Cretins like him don’t care about a few weeks in prison in return for hooligan legend status.
It’s not just players coming under attack.
Again, what made this so particularly inexplicable is that Everton had just come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and save themselves from relegation.
The ‘fan’ should have been joyously celebrating a miracle escape but instead his focus was solely on terrorising the manager of the team who his side had just beaten.
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Who wouldn’t try to defend themselves from this kind of disgusting threatening behaviour?
Vieira never backed down from the toughest of opponents when he was a player, he certainly wasn’t going to do so when confronted by a sickening little coward hurling toxic spittle at him.
On the same night, Port Vale fans invaded the pitch to throw kicks and punches at Swindon Town players following their club’s League Two play-off semi-final win.
Swindon forward Harry McKirdy posted on Instagram: “I’ll take the stick and the songs. But bottles, coins, lighters thrown, running on and hitting and kicking me/team-mates. Too far.”
His colleague Mandela Egbo tweeted a selfie displaying a bloodied mark on his nose, and wrote: “How you scummy fans get two free shots and only manage a scratch? & I’m supposed to keep my cool — if I react, I’m the bad guy right?”
Sadly, yes. Judging by Twitter’s reaction to Vieira’s kick, many very stupid people have more sympathy for the yobs than their victims.
There’s been a steady, depressing increase in this kind of incident since the coronavirus pandemic began to fade and crowds were let back into stadiums with pent-up excitement after two years of lockdowns.
Back in February, a drunken Leicester City lout named Cameron Toner, 19, attacked three other Forest players in an FA Cup game, wildly swinging punches at them for having the audacity to celebrate a goal.
He got four months’ youth custody and a 10-year-ban from football matches.
Toner’s lawyer said in mitigation: “I’m sure the media will want to use the phrase ‘yob’ or ‘hooligan’ but that is not what he is.”
Er no, that’s exactly what he is.
The bottom line is that if these pitch invasions are allowed to keep happening, we’re going to see a player or manager get killed
The question now is what to do with these idiots?
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola issued a personal apology for what happened to Robin Olsen, “I don’t know how [to stop it] – you cannot put 1,000 guards to control all the people there.”
And there’s the nub of this pitch invasion debate.
Police and stewards alone don’t deter people from doing it, even though it remains illegal to come onto the pitch under the 1991 Football Offences Act.
The prospect of a few weeks in prison clearly doesn’t work as a deterrent either for people who often have long criminal records anyway and see another stint as simply a badge of bragging-rights thug honour.
We can’t go back to fences and moats, as some foreign clubs have done.
But nor can we just sit back and watch these mindless scenes continue.
TIME FOR FIRM, DECISIVE ACTION
As Roy Keane said on Sky Sports yesterday: “It’s disgraceful. A player or a manager is going to be seriously injured.
“If you’re mad enough to come on and punch a player, then you’re going to be mad enough to stab a player. There’ll be something crazy happen. I think when Covid happened, people came back from Covid and forgot how to behave themselves. Idiots, scumbags, disgrace.”
As so often, Keane was spot on, not least about the way many people seem to have lost their minds during the pandemic.
The bottom line is that if these pitch invasions are allowed to keep happening, we’re going to see a player or manager get killed.
No, it’s time to take firm, decisive action.
I don’t believe in the effectiveness of punishing clubs for pitch invasions by docking points or playing games in empty grounds.
This is too open to abuse from rival fans who may have a vested interest in causing trouble to get the other club punished.
No, the way to stop so-called fans invading the pitch is to make the punishment so severe for the individuals that they would never want to take the risk.
Given technology can now identify many of those doing it, I would fine every single one of them that can be identified £20,000, give them 20-year banning orders from attending any football matches home or abroad (with instant one-year jail sentences for those caught breaching it) and a criminal record for breaking the existing law with all the restrictions that brings to travel etc.
Send the message, with immediate effect, that if you take one step onto the pitch, you will face severe financial penalties and lose the ability to watch the game you love or lose your liberty if you try.
This may sound draconian, but what other option is there?
The rights of players and managers not to be attacked overrides the right of violent fools to charge onto pitches, letting off smoke bombs, wrecking goals and physically and verbally abusing professionals in their workplace.
Or, sadly, the rights of non-violent people to peacefully celebrate.
The party has to be over for pitch invaders – because they’ve ruined the party.
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was another who was caught up in disgusting scenes when Everton fans invaded the pitch following their win to stay in the Premier LeagueCredit: Getty
The Arsenal legend kicked out at a fan after vile abuse – but now he faces an FA investigationCredit: PA
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