Even when you saw it more than once you couldn’t quite believe it.
Video footage of the brawl between Everton and Lyon players during their Europa League match Thursday night at
Goodison Park included the incredible scene of a man carrying a child weaving his way through the stands to take a swing at Antonio Lopes. The brawl had erupted after the Lyon keeper had been
shoved into the advertising signboards by Everton captain Ashley Williams, and as about 20 players from both teams bickered and jostled a few fans got involved as well.
To their credit, both UEFA and Everton have taken swift action. UEFA has opened
disciplinary proceedings against Everton for “aggressions by supporters against players” and Everton said it has identified the fan involved and will ban him from the stadium for life. The
club has also registered a formal complaint against the man with Merseyside police, which will conduct its own investigation into the incident.
Police issued a statement which read,
“Officers are investigating following a disturbance on the pitch during a football match between Everton and Lyon at Goodison Park last night. Detectives will be reviewing footage and
speaking to witnesses to establish what, if any, offences have been committed.”
The days when punishments for field incidents were solely the responsibility of the clubs and league
are long gone. Municipalities -- fearful of expensive legal actions and exorbitant lawsuits stemming from crowd violence -- have imposed civil and criminal punishments on clubs that do not maintain
order in their stadiums, and this bizarre scene of an enraged adult taking a child into a melee will increase pressure on teams to tighten touchline security.
A statement released by
Everton read in part: “Club officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the
lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players.
“We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban
from attending future Everton fixtures and the club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside police.” A charge of child endangerment seems to be apropos as well.
and Everton manager Ronald Koeman, the 2-1 defeat and ugly incident marked another downturn in their fortunes. Last week Williams and his Welsh teammates lost a World Cup playoff spot when they
lost to Ireland, and a sluggish start to the Premier League season has ramped up pressure on Koeman.
Everton has won just two of its first eight league matches and is one of four teams
with eight points, just two above the relegation zone. Dutch referee Bas Nijhuis cautioned Williams for his push on Lopes and Williams could face additional sanctions for his role in the
“On one hand I understand frustration and disappointment because everybody was disappointed but you need to control yourself,” said Koeman. “I understand his
situation of yesterday. His personal situation is difficult after going out of the World Cup with Wales, and he has made some mistakes that have cost a goal, but he showed his face yesterday. He
played well and was captain on the pitch but in the brawl he needed to control himself.”
The same must be said for the imbecilic fan, who held the child in his left arm while taking
a swing at Lopes with his right. Now that he's banned from Goodison Park he can find safer and smarter activities for the children in his life.