Football: Alleged A-League pitch invaders handed life bans by Football Australia

A bleeding Tom Glover of Melbourne City is escorted off the pitch by teammates after fans stormed the pitch during the round eight A-League match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park. Photo/Getty

Two men have been banned from “all related football activity” including attending A-League games after they were charged by police over a mass pitch invasion which ended with a goalkeeper requiring hospitalisation.

Outrage was sparked over the violent behavior of fans during the incident in which more than 150 spectators stormed the AAMI Park field on Saturday night during the first half of the match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne FC.

A 23-year-old Craigieburn man and a 19-year-old Meadow Heights man were issued with life bans from Football Australia-sanctioned football matches and events including all A-Leagues, Australia Cup, National Premier League and national team matches and from registering as football participants.

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Football Australia said the pair were slapped with the bans after they entered the field of play.

The 23-year-old – known as “Bucket Man” – is alleged to have struck goalkeeper Tom Glover with a metal bucket full of sand and has been charged by Victoria Police.

A 23-year-old has been charged in relation to a goalkeeper being hit in the head with a bucket full of sand.  Photo / Victoria Police
A 23-year-old has been charged in relation to a goalkeeper being hit in the head with a bucket full of sand. Photo / Victoria Police

He has also been charged with violent disorder, discharge missile, intent to cause injury, recklessly cause injury, unlawful assault, entry to sporting competition space, disrupting a match, public nuisance and riotous behaviour.

The 19-year-old was charged with a separate alleged assault on Glover, as well as an alleged assault on a security guard.

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He faces charges of violent disorder, discharge missile, three counts of unlawful assault, entry to competition space, disrupting a match, public nuisance, riotous behaviour, discharge and possess flare.

The pair handed themselves into police on Monday.

“The actions of these two, and others who are of interest to us, are completely unacceptable and those people and their behaviors will never be welcome in our game,” Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said.

“Football has a zero-tolerance policy to disruptive, destructive, violent and anti-social behavior at its sanctioned events, and it will not tolerate behavior that has the potential to threaten the safety or security of spectators, players, and officials.

“These significant bans against these individuals are consistent with this position.”

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Glover needed stitches after he was allegedly set upon by the group during the incident, which was sparked when he threw flares, which has been tossed onto the pitch, back towards fans.

Police have also revealed the alleged details of what occurred in the stadium during the pitch invasion.

Around 50 flares were lit in the stands, with at least three thrown onto the field, police say.

Two security guards were also injured alongside Glover and referee Alex King and approximately $120,000 worth of damage was allegedly caused to the venue.

Officers from the Public Order Response Team allegedly had bottles thrown at them when responding to the incident.

Police have released images of men they wish to speak to, with a spokesman saying they may be able to assist with investigations.

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