The FA were forced into acute embarrassment last night as, in the wake of their admonishment of the Serbian crowd trouble in the week, a British football fan took to the pitch to strike Sheffield Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland in the face.
The incident, which occurred during a seemingly innocuous N-Power Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, has shook British football to its core.
Heaping shame on the hooligan culture that the sport has tried hard to rid itself of, the incident’s resonance was amplified as it was broadcast on live TV.
Leeds, a club who have a reputation for hooliganism, had been trying hard to shake off the salacious tag, only to see a small group's actions throw their reputation back into disrepute.
The incident, in the 77th minute of the Friday-night fixture, occurred in the wake of a stunning equalizing goal by Leeds’ Michael Tonge, canceling out Jay Bothroyd’s earlier opener for the Owls.
The goal, a long range curling effort from Tonge, was almost completely ignored in the press due to the subsequent abhorrent scenes.
Chairs were ripped from their fixings and a number of the traveling Leeds support jumped the barrier onto the pitch.
One ‘fan’ almost danced round the edge of the goal before striking the unsuspecting Kirkland in the face with a double-armed shove that sent him sprawling.
In the aftermath, the Internet was alive with aspersions about the identity of the attacker, and the incident trended worldwide on Twitter.
Speaking about the incident Wednesday, boss Dave Jones called for justice; “they are vile animals”, he said. “You talk about racism, the chanting is a form of racism. The Leeds fans are all going to get tarred by the same brush and that's not right, but they will do and they should do because it wasn't one person chanting the vile things. The authorities have to look at it and sort it. I'm talking about an incident when we should be talking about the football."
Leeds boss Neil Warnock was similarly keen to castigate the fans' actions, claiming it made him “embarrassed” to be the club's manager.
“I thought it was an absolute disgrace. They should get the guy, prosecute him and put him in prison," Warnock continued. “I'm not proud to be Leeds manager when I see that. To see things like that on the field of play, I'm embarrassed.”
A Leeds official statement confirmed that the club would “fully comply with police and the football authorities. After the week football has endured,” it continued “There is no place for this type of behavior and the majority of Leeds supporters will be ashamed of his actions."