Troy Deeney has pleaded with the FA and the Premier League to look into the “huge problem” that pitch invasions have become in recent weeks – and asked them to take action before “someone is killed”.
The Birmingham City forward, who spent 11 seasons at Watford, has reacted after a fan landed a headbutt on Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp and Swindon Town defender Mandela Egbo was injured in a week of unsavoury scenes.
With Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira also clashing with a fan, Deeney has begged football authorities to take action before someone is seriously injured on the football pitch.
In a column, Deeney wrote:
“What will it take for that to change? A player to react and a supporter gets seriously hurt?
“That player would end up getting punished, and maybe a prison sentence, and then people will wake up and start talking about looking after players.
“On the flip side, it could also lead to a player being killed, quite easily. What happens if a player got stabbed? Then what? Is it still the player’s fault? And when that happens, please don’t tell them they should have known better.”
In backing up the actions of Vieira by questioning why the fan got in his face while celebrating Everton’s Premier League survival, Deeney pondered what stewards can do differently to protect players and staff.
The 33-year-old also admits that he would be quick to act in self-defence if a fan put their hands on him during a pitch invasion, calling for harsher punishments for those who enter the playing surface.
A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty to assault after attacking Sheffield United’s Sharp, while a separate charge of illegally entering the pitch was dropped.
Egbo of Swindon Town took to social media to claim that rival fans had fired punches in a post-match pitch invasion, saying:
“How you scummy fans get two free shots and only manage a scratch? & I’m supposed to keep my cool – if I react I’m the bad guy right?”
Vieira, who kicked out at a fan that had goaded him, refused to comment on the matter.
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