Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with a fan as supporters invaded the pitch following Everton's 3-2 win at Goodison Park, which secured their Premier League survival
Friday 20 May 2022 17:27, UK
Merseyside Police are investigating after Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with an Everton fan during a pitch invasion at Goodison Park.
Everton had come from behind to beat Palace 3-2 and secure their Premier League survival, leading to a mass pitch invasion of fans.
Vieira was walking across the pitch towards his team's dressing room at the other side of the ground when an Everton fan approached him, prompting a reaction from the Palace boss.
A statement from Merseyside Police said: "We are working with Everton FC to gather all available CCTV footage and are speaking to witnesses.
"No formal complaint has been received and enquiries into the incident are ongoing."
The police also confirmed that four men were arrested "following incidents involving pyrotechnics at the ground and fans entering the pitch".
Sky Sports News has attempted to contact Crystal Palace. Everton have not commented on the issue. The FA are looking into the incident.
When Vieira was asked about it in his post-match press conference, he said: "I've got nothing to say about that."
Vieira said he was satisfied with how the pitch invasion was managed, adding: "The referee managed i really well."
Meanwhile, Everton manager Frank Lampard added: "I feel for Patrick and I didn't get him [to shake hands] at the end because of the reaction. He ran across the pitch 80 yards in front of our fans but there's no issue. Just pure elation from our fans at staying in the league."
The incident took place on the same evening that Swindon head coach Ben Garner claimed his players were "physically and verbally abused" by Port Vale supporters who stormed the pitch following his side's League Two play-off semi-final defeat at Vale Park.
Reacting to the incident live on Sky Sports Premier League, former striker Dion Dublin argued it should become law that fans get lifetime bans for entering the field of play in any circumstances, including mass pitch invasions.
"We don't want to see it at all," he said. "We know how overjoyed the Everton fans are but you can't be pushing managers and pushing players and shouting at them in their faces.
"We know it's only the minority, we know it's one or two that spoil it for everyone else. Having fans on the pitch is not the way forward. We have to stop letting fans or allowing fans onto the pitch. It's too dangerous.
"What if you make an announcement before the game that anybody who comes onto the pitch has a life ban? They're not going to go on the pitch because they love their football club. That is the choice, either you make everyone come on the pitch or you make them hallowed turfs?
"Fans need to enjoy the experience, don't spoil it, enjoy it. You can't have managers and players fearing for their lives with fans going on it. You can only avoid it by having fans have lifetime bans. For any player, any member of staff, it's a scary place to be.
"Possibly [Vieira will end up in hot water] but what do you do as a human being if someone's in your face and you've just lost a game you should have won. If someone's in my face, I'd probably do the same thing.
"It's hard to put yourself in Patrick's position. It's hard to say 'Patrick shouldn't do this', or 'Patrick shouldn't react'. I disagree. If somebody's in your face and somebody's pushing you, what do you do?
"We don't want something to happen that's going to make us go: 'ah, we should have done something earlier'. Let's do it now."
The UK's football policing chief is alarmed by the recent rise in pitch invasions and has described attacks on players and managers as "totally unacceptable".
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs' Council's Football Policing Lead, said: "It has been alarming to see a rise in the number of fans entering the pitch during matches over the past couple of weeks.
"This has at times resulted in assaults and altercations with players, managers and club staff - which is totally unacceptable. The pitch is the players' place of work and like everyone else, they should be able to feel safe.
"I know emotions are running high when clubs are getting promoted or avoiding relegation, but having large numbers of fans rushing on to the pitch at the end of the game is a safety risk for everyone, and I would urge all fans to remain in their seats and celebrate in the correct way.
"It is the responsibility of clubs to ensure that fans can view matches in safety and we will continue to work with clubs to see what can be done to help prevent these incidents in future."
The incident at Goodison Park comes on the same day a Nottingham Forest supporter was handed a 24-week jail sentence for charging at Sheffield United's Billy Sharp following a pitch invasion by the Championship club after they reached the play-off final.
Forest season ticket holder Robert Biggs, from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm which left Sharp requiring four stitches to a wound to his lip. He was jailed at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
Sheffield United overturned a two-goal deficit on Tuesday to level the tie at 3-3 on aggregate and force extra-time and penalties, but their spirited fightback was extinguished in the shootout when goalkeeper Brice Samba saved three spot-kicks to send Forest to Wembley.
Biggs appeared in court in custody and did not oppose an application for a football banning order during the hearing. He was told that a separate charge of illegally entering the playing surface had been dropped.
Biggs was also ordered to pay Sharp £500 in compensation, as well as £85 in costs and a £128 victim surcharge.
The FA released a statement on Friday afternoon, saying they are investigating all incidences of anti-social behaviour during the midweek spate of pitch invasions.
"We are very concerned about the rise in anti-social behaviour from fans as we reach the end of the season. Football stadiums should always be a safe and enjoyable space for everyone, and these incidents are completely unacceptable and have no place in our game.
"It is illegal to enter the pitch area in any stadium and these actions are putting players, fans and people who run the game at great risk. This simply cannot continue and we can confirm that we are investigating all of the incidences.
"Clubs play a vital role in addressing this issue, and they need to prevent pitch invasions from occurring, as well as taking their own action against those that break the rules and the law. The FA will be seeking to do all that it can to work with clubs as well as addressing the issues from a disciplinary perspective.
"We are also reviewing our regulations to help stamp this behaviour out and to ensure the safety of everyone inside a stadium."