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FSF statement: pitch incursions

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

On Sunday 10th March, Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was assaulted by a supporter who had got onto the pitch during their match against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.

This person has been convicted of encroachment onto the pitch and assault, receiving a 14 week prison sentence and a ten year football banning order. Additionally, there was also a pitch incursion at the Emirates Stadium during the Arsenal vs Manchester United Premier League fixture.

The FSF has issued the following statement:

There is no better atmosphere in sport than the atmosphere generated by a football crowd and the vast majority of fans spend their lives going to games without ever participating in any form of disorder whatsoever. However, as football is the world’s most popular sport, it is likely that individuals will enter football grounds who we’d rather weren’t there.

We fundamentally oppose violence and condemn the actions of any fan who chooses to enter the field of play and confront a player and, as the national supporters’ organisation, we also have a duty to put the issue of football violence into context. Football disorder in stadiums is at an historically low level and, while there’s been a small cluster of pitch incursions in the past week, last season’s arrest rate was 3.5 arrests per 100,000 fans – a far lower rate than many comparable non-football events.

“With this in mind we’d hate to think that recent high-profile incidents would put off new fans from attending live football. It’s a safe environment, you’re extremely unlikely to see any type of trouble and you’ll almost certainly have a great time… although we can’t promise goals. Let’s keep the passion and lose the poison.

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