Football Australia investigates pitch invasion that forced Melbourne derby to be abandoned

Football Australia investigates pitch invasion that forced Melbourne derby to be abandoned

Football Australia said it will “weed out” those responsible for a pitch invasion that forced the Melbourne derby in the A-League to be abandoned on Saturday as it began investigating.

FA said Glover and referee Alex King are in good health but shaken.

“We will be moving swiftly and taking the strongest sanctions available,” FA chief executive James Johnson said.

Melbourne City said goalkeeper Glover suffered a concussion and “severe lacerations” to his face, and would be able to return to training once he clears concussion protocols.

Victoria Police said approximately 150 to 200 Melbourne Victory fans ran on to the pitch in the 22nd minute of Saturday’s game, although Johnson suggested the culprits are not football supporters.

“This is an element that goes beyond football,” he said. “It’s an element that infiltrates our game and that really try to ruin it for the two million people [in Australia] who love our sport.

“And it’s those people that we will be targeting in this investigation and who we will weed out of the sport.”

On Sunday, Melbourne Victory’s managing director Caroline Carnegie said the club would assist a police investigation and apologised to Glover, King and the camera operator.

“Victory is bigger than a group of fans that did the wrong thing,” she said. “There’s no place at our club, no place in the game, no place in the league, for that sort of behaviour.”

Fans of both teams planned a walk-out as part of protests against the decision to sell the A-League Grand Final rights to Sydney for the next three years.

But the protest escalated with flares being thrown on to the pitch by both sets of supporters, with one striking a camera operator on the head.

City were leading 1-0 when Glover appeared to throw a flare back towards the crowd, according to Melbourne newspaper The Age.

Spectators then rushed on to the field and referee King suffered a cut to his head while trying to shield Glover.

“Our game is in tatters. An absolute disgrace what happened,” said Australia goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who plays for the Central Coast Mariners.

“Cannot believe we are here after such an amazing World Cup and so much potential to see our game grow.

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

Protests about the Grand Final decision were staged at other A-League games this weekend.

Mariners and Newcastle Jets fans staged a walk-out, while a group of Sydney FC supporters boycotted their game with the Mariners altogether.

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