Soccer fans in England face bans over field invasions

Crystal Palace's manager Patrick Vieira walks from the pitch at halftime during a pre-season game between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. AP Photo

Soccer fans who run onto the field or use objects like smoke bombs and pyrotechnics at matches in England will receive an automatic ban from clubs under new measures announced Monday to tackle increased anti-social behavior.

Concerns were raised about safety issues inside stadiums following a series of incidents which marred the end of last season in the Premier League and lower leagues.

Among them, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira kicked out at an Everton fan who was taunting him during a field invasion at Goodison Park and Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp was headbutted in the face by a Nottingham Forest fan at the end of a playoff game in the second-tier Championship. The Forest fan was given a 24-week prison sentence.

“The rise in anti-social behavior that we saw in stadiums at the end of last season was entirely unacceptable and put people’s safety at risk,” said Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the Football Association.

“Together, English football has introduced new measures and stronger sanctions to send out a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of illegal and dangerous behavior.”

The FA did not specify how long any bans would be.

The Football Supporters’ Association has backed the new measures which will come into force in time for the start of the 2022-23 season.

The bans could be extended to accompanying parents or guardians of children who take part in the field invasions, the FA said.

The governing body said it will also be enforcing a tougher charging and sanctioning policy for clubs in order to reinforce the measures.

Other measures to be implemented include improved searching of individuals entering grounds, increased use of sniffer dogs, and working with social media platforms to quickly remove fan videos of illegal behavior.

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