More charges filed after violent pitch invasion in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two men who received lifetime bans from all soccer-related activities are among the 13 people already charged by police following a violent pitch invasion that left a goalkeeper and a referee injured and forced the abandonment of a top-flight league game in Australia on the weekend.

More charges are expected, with Victoria state police saying Wednesday that an additional 18 people have also been identified following public appeals for information on the Saturday night incident in the derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory that has tarnished the A-League men’s competition.

Football Australia has already issued life-time bans to two Melbourne Victory supporters, including a 23-year-old man who allegedly hit Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover with a metal bucket after rushing into the field.

Glover had a concussion and a facial laceration after being hit by the bucket wielded by a pitch invader and referee Alex King was also injured in the incident as about 150 people ran onto the field about 20 minutes into the game. City was leading 1-0 when the game was first suspended and then cancelled. A TV camera operator and two security guards were also injured.

An investigation by soccer organizers found the man, who had already been charged by Victoria state police with unlawful assault and violent disorder, guilty of “entering the field of play without authorization and using an item (bucket) with the intent to cause damage or harm.”

A 19-year-old man, who has also been charged by police, has received a lifetime ban from all soccer-related activities for “entering the field of play without authorization and engaging in conduct that did or was likely to cause harm or endanger others”.

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

A 17-year-old boy was charged on summons with reckless conduct endangering serious injury and discharging a lit distress signal, over an incident that saw the TV camera operator hit by a flare.

About $100,000 worth of damage was caused to the venue and about 80 flares or fireworks were set off, according to police. Poles and bottles were thrown at police on the field when they responded.

All those charged by police over the pitch invasion have been granted bail and ordered to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court in February.

Video on social media showed a man throwing a metal bucket of sand at Glover during the melee. Glover, who was taken off the field dazed and bleeding and later received stitches to a facial laceration, returned to practice with the club on Monday.

Football Australia has ordered the Victory to show cause why it should not face severe sanctions for the conduct of its supporters.

The Victory could face a financial penalty, points deduction or possibly have fans locked out of stadiums.

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