Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The 29 Fans Who Shamed England

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The 29 Fans Who Shamed England

Article excerpt

Police officers want to speak to 29 football supporters who took part in a dangerous pitch invasion to celebrate England's two goals in their match against Turkey in Sunderland.

Senior police officers said the infringement on to the turf at the Stadium of Light last month had damaged the image of the game.

FA spokesman Paul Barber, at a joint Press conference with Northumbria Police to launch the appeal to trace the men, said: "Pitch invasions are not clever and they are not cool. The players don't like it and they are dangerous."

But he refused to criticise the way in which any of the players celebrated England's goals in their 2-0 victory.

He said: "I think when you are taking a penalty the last thing on your mind is how you are going to celebrate."

Responding to suggestions that David Beckham's passionate celebration of his penalty in the game may have partially contributed to the invasion, he said: "In the heat of the moment, David celebrated his goal and I don't think he did anything that could or should have caused the problems that occurred."

He made it clear that England players were to be made aware of their "responsibilities" in relation to the crowd ahead of future games. He also said steps would be taken to prevent similar trouble occurring at England's next two games against Serbia and Slovakia.

In particular, the FA was concerned about racist chanting and Mr Barber pointed out that Uefa, Europe's governing football body, considered the booing of opposing sides' national anthems to be racist.

He said: "Pitch invasions are dangerous to both players and other spectators. The FA will not tolerate further incidents of this kind and will impose its own ban for life from FA matches on any supporters who invade the pitch."

Assistant Chief Constable David Warcup said: "By taking action now to identify those who invaded the pitch we aim to send a clear message that such behaviour is unacceptable and will be dealt with firmly and appropriately. …

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