Melbourne derby violence condemned as 'devastated' Victory say fan behaviour was 'appalling'

By Sports Desk December 17, 2022

Football Australia promised it would impose "strong sanctions" after a violent pitch invasion by supporters saw the A-League Men derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory abandoned.

The game at AAMI Park saw flares thrown by both sets of fans during the first 22 minutes, before trouble escalated when a flare seemed to hit a pitch-side cameraman before exploding, while City goalkeeper Tom Glover threw another flare back into the crowd.

This led to many fans storming the pitch, with Glover being hit in the face with a metal bin that had been used for other flares. His club later said the 24-year-old "likely has a concussion" and was being treated by medical staff.

Football Australia was dismayed by what it called "shocking scenes", saying the match officials had rightly abandoned the game, while Melbourne Victory said the club were "devastated" and condemned the actions of their supporters.

In a statement, Football Australia said: "Such behaviour has no place in Australian football, with a full Football Australia investigation to commence immediately, where strong sanctions will be handed down."

The Australian Professional League (APL) said referee Alex King had also been injured in the melee.

The referee was standing next to Glover as fans poured onto the pitch from behind the goal and was covered in ash as smoke filled the air, before he took the players off the pitch.

Melbourne Victory said the behaviour of the club's supporters was "not acceptable under any circumstance" and apologised to Glover, King and the cameraman.

The club said: "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.

"The actions that occurred, that saw spectators enter the pitch and injure a Melbourne City FC player, an official and a Network Ten cameraman, are not acceptable under any circumstance and have no place in football.

"The security and welfare of everyone involved in a football match is paramount and the club will not accept this behaviour.

"The club would like to formally apologise to Tom Glover, match official Alex King and the camera operator as well as all players, officials and those who witnessed the appalling behaviour.

"This conduct will not be tolerated and the club, along with AAMI Park and Victoria Police, will undertake a full investigation into the incident.

"Melbourne Victory would like to reiterate there is no place in football for what was witnessed tonight."

The game was played against the backdrop of fan protests earlier in the week after both the men's and women's A-Leagues announced the sale of the rights to their grand finals to the New South Wales government.

Both finals will be played in Sydney for the next three years after a deal reported to be worth eight figures was reached, with several prominent individuals involved in Australian football speaking out against the move away from the tradition of the highest-placed team hosting the game.

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