Football Australia CEO James Johnson makes statement on Melbourne Derby which left him ‘horrified and angry’.
Saturday night’s match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory was abandoned after 20 minutes of play, following a pitch invasion from a number of Victory supporters.
During the incident, City ‘keeper Thomas Glover was left with a gash in his face after a metal bucket was thrown in his direction, whilst referee Alex King and a broadcast camera operator were also caught up in the chaos.
Football Australia have subsequently opened up an investigation into the incident, and in an address to the media this morning, Johnson made this statement:
“I’m horrified and angry with the scenes witnessed at AAMI Park last night. We have a case of some individuals – I will not refer to them as fans of football, only as individuals – who have confronted and attacked a player and a match official. We’ve had individuals who have wilfully destructed LED, we’ve had individuals who have wilfully invaded the pitch and we’ve had flares thrown onto the pitch and consequently a match has been abandoned due to the integrity of the match.”
“Football Australia regulates and governs the league. We don’t have a commercial interest in issues such as the one we’re facing. We’re an independent regulator and we can look at this issue, the APL and the respective clubs in an independent way. As the regulator of the A-Leagues we have been in touch with the Victorian police, respective governments at both federal and state level, the APL and I’ve personally spoken to both Tommy [Glover] and Alex [King], who were both right in the centre of the pitch invasion and who I am happy to report are healthy but shaken up by the events of last night.”
“An investigation has been opened and we’re looking at three separate focuses of the investigation. The first is what happens with the result of last night’s match. The second is a show cause process that we’ve opened with Melbourne Victory, and they will be issued with a show cause letter as soon as possible. That will not close the door to a show cause letter to Melbourne City, but at this point in time we won’t be doing so because we haven’t yet come across evidence that would support us doing so. The third course of investigation will be into the individuals who we are seeking to name, identify and to sanction. We will be moving swiftly, and we will be taking the strongest sanctions available.”
“I’d like to say in closing that we are a sport with a massive groundswell, and we’ve seen how big our sport is becoming, just recently with the World Cup campaign and the Socceroos. We know our sport will continue to grow and be at its strongest point leading into the Women’s World Cup in July this year. This pitch invasion – and I want to be clear – has nothing to do with the groundswell and the rising of our game. The parent that takes their child to grassroots football in Brisbane or the young boy who plays in our league pathways in Perth, or the 40-year-old woman who plays amateur football in Sydney, or the fans who peacefully protested in the Central Coast Mariners, Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle games, or the other 2 million people in our sport, this is not about them and has nothing to do with them.
“It has nothing to do with the 2 million people who love and support our game week-in, week-out. This is an element that goes beyond football and infiltrates our game and will really try to ruin it for those who love our sport, and it’s those people who we will be targeting in this investigation and will be weeded out of our sport.”
All A-League Men and A-League Women’s matches to be played this afternoon are set to take place unaffected, including Western United’s match against Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park.
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