Two players were assaulted during their respective high profile games in England on Sunday.
Sunday was surely not a regular day for English football. Two games across the Premier League and the EFL Championship witnessed pitch invasion where the invading fans confronted on-field away players. The games involved were the high profile clashes between Arsenal and Manchester United and Birmingham and Aston Villa.
In the 2-0 win for Arsenal at the Emirates, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the penalty at the 69th minute to seal the deal for the Gunners. Just after the team was off near to celebrate the goal, a fan was seen running towards the Arsenal players and he pushed one of the United players during his run.
Chris Smalling did not pay much to the incident as the ground staff were seen hurling towards the invader to catch him. Local police have confirmed a man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and pitch invasion.
Incident here in Sky video with fan able to run onto Arsenal pitch and seem to push Chris Smalling pic.twitter.com/m3hO4X97K2
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) March 10, 2019
On the other hand, a Birmingham fan ran towards the Aston Villa captain, Jack Grealish, to physically assault him from the back. Jack was pushed from behind and the player fell on the field. Just as the incident happened, plenty of Aston Villa players ran towards to the assaulter to help the one steward who was trying to capture him.
Unbelievable scenes at #SecondCityDerby as a fan invades the pitch and throws a punch at Jack Grealish.
Ref has ruled it an illegal knockdown and deducted a point from the fan. Grealish 10-8 round for me. pic.twitter.com/8OCxXBlGcK
— Heavy Hands Boxing (@_HeavyHands) March 10, 2019
Ashley Young, Manchester United’s captain, insists that the authorities should take necessary steps for these types of incidents. “What message can you put out any more? That’s the third time a fan has managed to get on the pitch — what if they are carrying something? The players will be in danger,” Young told beIN Sports.
He continued, “Whether it’s the FA, Premier League, FIFA, something’s got to be done maybe with extra stewarding or whatever.”
Arsenal and Birmingham City issued apologies after the incidents, the Championship club’s statement read, “Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in this afternoon’s derby match.”
And the Arsenal’s statement read, “We would like to apologise to Chris [Smalling] and Manchester United, and are pleased that the individual has been apprehended and arrested.”
“We will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation. The individual will also be banned from Arsenal matches home and away,” it read.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on the other hand, admits that he didn’t witness the incident himself. “We just have to make sure we’ll play football and they can watch. It’s just one of them things you don’t want to see,” he said.