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Australian League Soccer Match Abandoned After Fans Storm Pitch, Attack Goalie

Doric SamDecember 17, 2022

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 17: A bleeding Tom Glover of Melbourne City is escorted from the pitch by team mates after fans stormed the pitch during the round eight A-League Men's match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park, on December 17, 2022, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

A soccer match between rivals Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the Australian A-League was abandoned after fans stormed the pitch.

According to ESPN's Joey Lynch, fans planned on jointly walking out of the game in the 20th minute in protest of the Australian Professional Leagues' (APL) decision to sell the hosting rights of the men's and women's grand finals to Sydney for the next three years. Things took a turn when fans started throwing lit flares onto the field.

City goalkeeper Tom Glover reportedly had a flare land near him on the field and attempted to throw it back into the stands toward Victory supporters. Glover's actions "led to a host of fans storming onto the pitch," per Lynch.

In the ensuing fracas, Glover was hit in the head by a bucket filled with sand, which was needed to extinguish the flares on the field. He had blood coming out of his head as his teammates tried to remove him from the melee. Club officials said afterward that he received stitches and is believed to have suffered a concussion.

As players and coaches left the field while the invasion continued, fans attacked the goals and sponsor boards before being ushered off the pitch by members of Victoria Police's Public Order Response Team. According to Victoria Police, 150 to 200 Victory fans stormed the field. No arrests have been made amid an ongoing investigation.

"The Melbourne Victory fans who stormed the pitch, resulting in the assault of a player, a referee and a member of match day broadcast staff, should be subjected to the strongest possible sanctions," a statement from players union Professional Footballers Australia said. "We acknowledge the courage of players, club staff and referees who came to the aid of each other in circumstances that no one should ever be exposed to."

In addition to Glover, referee Alex King was also hit by the bucket, which caused a gash in his head. The game's referee coach was pushed into a fence during the chaos, and a camera operator appeared to be hit by one of the flares thrown onto the field.

Victory released a statement condemning the actions of the fans who stormed the pitch.

"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," the club stated.

This marks the first time that an A-Leagues match had to be abandoned because of violence.