Fans Storm Field, Attack Goalkeeper

Crowds backing both sides planned walkout over decision to move future finals to Sydney
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2022 3:35 PM CST
Match Ends When Fans Attack Goalkeeper
Fans storm the field Saturday in Melbourne, Australia.   (Will Murray/AAP Image via AP)

Australian soccer rans ran onto the field Saturday during a professional match in Melbourne, attacking one of the goalkeepers. Tom Glover of Melbourne City was pushed and hit with what looked like a metal bucket holding a white substance, the Washington Post reports. Teammates rushed over to protect Glover from the mob before he was helped off, dazed and bleeding. The goalkeeper received stitches at a hospital for a facial laceration. Referee Alex King, who tried to shield the goalkeeper from the crowd, suffered a cut on the head. City was leading Melbourne Victory 1-0 when the match was stopped.

The mood at AAMI Park was tense from the beginning, per the AP, with fans of both sides planning to leave the match 20 minutes into it. The walkout was intended as a protest against the Australian Professional Leagues for deciding to sell hosting rights to the men’s and women's grand finals, which led to the next three grand final matches being awarded to Sydney, more than 500 miles away. Players also have complained, including Craig Goodwin, a star of Australia's World Cup run this month. One posted Monday that "like all competitors I have loved earning the right to play a home grand final and would love it to stay being earned."

Fans walked out after 20 minutes of a Newcastle Jets-Brisbane Roar game Friday as part of the protests. Fans at both games carried banners and chanted against the decision. Saturday's protest escalated when fans threw flares onto the field and one seemed to hit a TV cameraman. The actions have been denounced by soccer observers and players. "Irreparable damage done," former Australia goalkeeper Danny Vukovic tweeted. "Darkest day for football in Australia." A journalist, Ray Gatt, posted that he's covered Australian soccer for more than 40 years and has seen "many highs and crippling lows. This is the lowest of the lows. So very sad." (Read more Australia stories.)

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