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Were you at the Hawthorns? We’d like to hear from you…

Sunday’s scenes at West Bromwich Albion v Wolves led to the announcement of an FA investigation within hours of the incident happening – and the FSA is keen to hear from supporters who were actually at the match so that your experiences are heard too.

As we said yesterday, the FSA is opposed to all forms of violence, be that physical threat or verbal abuse. There’s no place for it in football and the vast majority of law-abiding fans do not want to see such scenes at the match.

It is also important that actual match-going fans who were at the match, and particularly those in the stands where these scenes took place, have the opportunity to share their evidence and experiences with the FA. 

A small minority of supporters might cause trouble at a specific game but that always has a negative impact on the matchday experience of the vast majority of peaceful supporters. The vast majority of supporters who want nothing to do with disorder. The vast majority of supporters who just want a good day out with their friends and family cheering on their team.

As the entire incident played out live on TV – on an otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon – there has been a lot of media attention and analysis from people who weren’t actually there.

In our opinion eyewitness accounts are invaluable in securing accurate information and our rule of thumb is always that match-going fans and supporter groups at the relevant clubs should be given the opportunity to contribute to any serious investigations. 

What should you include? Name, club and a detailed account of what you witnessed and what you believe the causes of that were. We will send anonymised information to the FA so that supporters’ experiences are heard.

Football’s response

There has been a strong response from the football authorities with a joint statement featuring the FA, Premier League, EFL, PGMOL, UKFPU, LMA, PFA and the FSA:

“We are very concerned about the unacceptable events that have taken place in some of our stadiums recently.

“Acts of discrimination, violence and entering the field of play are all criminal offences – which can result in individuals receiving criminal convictions, football banning orders and life-time stadium bans.

“While we understand that this behaviour is carried out by a small minority, we wish to remind everyone that these actions will not be tolerated and we will collectively work together, alongside the police, to bring offenders to justice and stamp this out of our game.

“Love Football. Protect the Game.”

As an organisation we’re happy to make clear our absolute opposition to football violence while also feeling it’s important to put incidents into their wider context too – this has been so high profile because it is so rare to see such scenes at the match.

Football arrests are at an historically low level and compare very favourably to other cultural events. Averaged across the Premier League and EFL there’s around five arrests per 100,000 supporters – at Glastonbury it’s around 17.5 arrests per 100,000 festival goers. 

This isn’t to besmirch Glasto which is a fantastic event – it’s just to put things in context as almost any large scale public gathering has its own specific issues. 

One violent incident is one incident too many and, as we said at the start of this piece, there’s no place for it at the match. There’s already very strict legislation in place to deal with any perpetrators of such acts as those who cause disorder often discover.

It’s also important not to give the wrong impression to supporters who might be new to football – they’re often younger fans and will make up the next generation of matchgoers.

Football is a great sport which we all love. It’s a safe, enjoyable, exciting environment (well, it’s exciting sometimes) which is why hundreds of thousands of us go every week with our friends and family. No one should be able to put that at risk.

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