Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Football's Shame

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Football's Shame

Article excerpt

Police chiefs were today meeting with the Football Association to discuss the violence witnessed during Everton's FA Cup defeat to Manchester United on Saturday.

Merseyside's Assistant Chief Constable Mick Gianassi believes evening kick-offs for weekend matches makes controlling crowd trouble more difficult but admitted the troublemakers at Goodison Park would have become embroiled in violence regardless of the time of the fixture.

Goals from Quinton Fortune and Cristiano Ronaldo secured United's passage to the next round during Wayne Rooney's much-hyped return to his old club.

Police made 33 arrests and five officers were injured - one of them requiring hospital treatment - after trying to break up groups of fighting supporters who clashed in the Everton Valley district of Liverpool.

During the game itself, United goalkeeper Roy Carroll was hit on the head with a coin thrown by an Everton fan in the stands, while other objects were also hurled on to the pitch.

But Gianassi said the kick-off time was not too instrumental in the problems.

"The reality is that about 300 or 400 people came here intent on causing trouble and it really wouldn't have mattered what time of the day that was," he said.

"It just provides the opportunity to drink before and after the game and quite clearly drink is a factor in violence.

"It is an issue and something that needs to be addressed."

FA head of media Adrian Bevington said: "We are in the process of speaking to the club and to Merseyside Police.

"We welcome the comments from Everton Football Club immediately following the match and their desire to have the culprit identified and then for the police to deal with them.

"Individuals who throw missiles must face action from the police and then through the courts, and then receive banning orders to prevent them attending any football both at home or abroad."

Sports Minister Richard Caborn has led calls for a review of early-evening kick-offs on high-profile matches.

He said: "We may well have to rethink the 5.30pm kick-off.

"There are now a lot more people returning to football and it is a minority of fans who are bringing the game into disrepute, and we have to deal with that. …

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