A violent pitch invasion in an Australian A-Leagues soccer match resulted in a goalkeeper and two officials being attacked and the rivalry game being abandoned, ESPN reports.
Fans of rival clubs Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City staged a joint-walkout in the 20th minute of the Melbourne Derby in protest of the Australian Professional Leagues’ decision to sell hosting rights to the leagues’ men’s and women’s grand finals to Sydney for the next three years.
Both fanbases threw flares onto the pitch at AAMI Park prior to exiting, which included one hitting a camera operator for Network Ten, which broadcasted the game.
Several other flares and small fireworks had already made their way onto the pitch during the first 20 minutes of the match, which included several thrown in celebration of Aiden O’Neill‘s goal in the 11th minute.
Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover, who attempted to clear the projectile that landed near him off the pitch, threw a flare back into the Victory supporters, which led to several fans storming the pitch.
During the on-field incident, Glover was struck in the head by a metal bucket filled with sand which was supposed to be used to extinguish flares in the area.
The goalkeeper was seen with blood coming from the side of his head as his teammates rushed him off the pitch and team officials confirmed that he needed stitches and was suspected to have suffered a concussion.
Referee Alex King also experienced a gash from the bucket throwing incident, while the game’s referee coach was pushed into a fence.
“The club would like to formally apologise to Tom Glover, match official, Alex King and the camera operator as well as all players, officials and those who witnessed the appalling behaviour,” Melbourne Victory said in a statement after the incident via ESPN.
Both teams and match officials quickly evacuated from the pitch as the incident continued.
The match was delayed and later abandoned — the first ever in A-Leagues history — to ensure player safety.