It’s been a week of ups and downs for football, with ecstatic scenes of teams’ successes overshadowed by fan disorder.
First, it was reported that Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was assaulted by a fan during a pitch invasion to celebrate Nottingham Forest’s play-off final status. A man has now been jailed for the assault.
That fan invasion threw up another incident, when United’s Oli McBurnie was accused of stamping on a fan in the commotion.
And now, Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira has reportedly been involved in an altercation with a pitch invader.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Following a 3-2 defeat at Everton, the Crystal Palace manager was involved in an altercation with a fan on the pitch, in which he appeared to kick a man insulting him.
In footage posted on social media, Vieira is seen walking across the pitch, unaccompanied by staff or security, to the away dressing room, which is placed in the Park End car park due to Covid rules.
He is then challenged by a fan who appears to make a gesture in the Frenchman’s face.
Vieira retaliates by grabbing the man and then swinging a kick at him before being escorted away by other supporters.
Everton fans had earlier staged a small pitch invasion after Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winner with five minutes to go secured the Toffees’ top-flight status.
This led to a brief interruption in play, but at the final whistle thousands more supporters streamed onto the field.
The incidents are likely to attract the interest of the Football Association.
What has Vieira said?
Vieira did not comment on the incident, which came to light after his post-match press conference, but Everton counterpart Frank Lampard offered his support.
“I feel for Patrick. I didn’t get him at the end. I would have said, ‘come in with us’ – although he might not have wanted that.
“Of course he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it’s not easy.”
Vieira is also yet to comment on Twitter.
What else has happened?
The Vieira incident is the latest pitch-invasion adjacent controversy to have marred the week in football, and comes at a late-stage in the season when teams should be celebrating their successes.
Nottingham Forest season-ticket holder Robert Biggs was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison on Thursday (19 May) for purposefully charging towards Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp and headbutting him during a pitch invasion at the end of the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final second leg.
The Blades’ striker was knocked to the ground, and teammate Oli McBurnie was also involved in a scuffle with a spectator, an incident into which the Football Association has begun an investigation.
The incident at Goodison Park came on the same night Port Vale beat Swindon Town on penalties to reach the League Two play-off final at Wembley later this month.
But their triumph was marred by yet another incident involving fans and players, as Vale fans rushed onto the pitch to rejoice after Ellis Iandolo missed from the spot for Town.
Others crossed over to the away side, with video footage appearing to show fists thrown at Swindon players.
What could be improved?
In light of recent events, the EFL has said partial and even full stadium closures could be imposed on clubs next season as the league seeks to crack down on pitch invasions and other fan disorder.
Addressing the pitch invasion at Nottingham Forest and similar scenes at other play-off and end-of-season fixtures, the EFL said: “We recognise that this lawlessness is being conducted by a small minority of individuals and that the majority of people attending matches are a credit to their club.
“However, it is not acceptable for supporters to enter the field of play at any time given the EFL’s objective is to ensure our matches remain a safe and welcoming one for all.”
It is understood that all alternatives will be considered, including ordering teams to play matches behind closed doors.
The UKFPU released figures earlier this year showing a 36% increase in reported fan disorder incidents in the first half of the 2021-22 season, compared to the same period in 2019-20.