Four arrests as fans invade Everton pitch in shameful end to Crystal Palace game

20 May 2022, 05:59 | Updated: 20 May 2022, 12:40

Vieira kicked out at a fan during a pitch invasion at Everton
Vieira kicked out at a fan during a pitch invasion at Everton. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Police arrested four males at Everton’s Goodison Park after fans invaded the pitch against Crystal Palace.

The pitch demonstration happened as Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira appeared to grab and kick at a football fan.

Three males were arrested on suspicion of entering or attempting to enter a football ground while in possession of a flare, smoke bomb or firework, Merseyside Police said.

Another was arrested for a breach of the peace but later de-arrested.

Former midfielder Vieira was being taunted by a supporter after his side fell to a 3-2 defeat to Everton, a result that ensures the Merseyside outfit will avoid relegation from the Premier League.

England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin's late winning goal sparked a small pitch invasion and a pause in play as jubilant Toffees fans celebrated their club's survival in the league.

Social media footage showed Vieira heading to the dressing room as fans spilled onto the pitch at Goodison Park when a fan gestured at the ex-Arsenal midfielder.

He held his fans up at Vieira's face, who initially appeared to try and ignore him. As the fan turned to move away, the manager suddenly grabbed him and kicked out, causing the fan to tumble to the ground.

Everton fans spilled onto the pitch at Goodison Park
Everton fans spilled onto the pitch at Goodison Park. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Nottingham Forest fan jailed for assaulting Sheffield United's Billy Sharp on pitch

Other fans then moved the supporter away and remonstrated with Vieira, who walked away.

It remains to be seen what action the Football Association will take over the scenes.

Speaking about the arrests, Chief Inspector Andy Rankine said: “We’re grateful to the majority of fans who were well behaved and engaged with the police and stewards at the match.

"We understand that football fans want to show support for their team, and that passions can run particularly high at the end of the football season with a lot at stake.

“We know the joy and relief Everton fans felt as they secured Premier League survival, but we always want fans to enjoy such occasions safely and we will not tolerate anti-social or criminal behaviour under any circumstances.

“We have unfortunately seen a trend develop across the country of supporters setting off pyrotechnics inside football grounds.

“It is illegal to bring them into football grounds for a reason, as flares, smoke bombs and fireworks can pose a serious danger to those who carry them, as well as those around them when they are set off.

“Last night, one officer was treated for smoke inhalation after a pyrotechnic was set off close to his face, and it is completely unacceptable that officers working to keep people safe should be exposed to such dangers.

“Bringing items such as smoke bombs, flares and fireworks could lead to fans being arrested, ejected from the stadium and issued with a football banning order of up to five years, or even jailed.

“We will continue to work with Everton to study CCTV footage to identify those who brought smoke bombs, flares or fireworks into Goodison Park and they will be dealt with robustly by the police, the club and the courts.”

Vieira did not comment on his kicking incident.

His opposite number, Everton manager Frank Lampard, said: "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.

Vieira kicked out at a fan as his Crystal Palace side fell to defeat
Vieira kicked out at a fan as his Crystal Palace side fell to defeat. Picture: Alamy

"Of course he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it's not easy."

The former England midfielder added: "It was pure elation of fans who have come on the pitch after avoiding relegation.

"If it is done in the right way let them stay on the pitch, let them have their moment. As long as they behave, no problem."

"I won't be surprised if there are charges against Patrick Vieira by the FA and even his own team management for rightfully defending his dignity from a wild barbaric pitch invader," one Twitter user wrote.

Read more: Football fans could be allowed to drink alcohol in their seats for first time in 37 years

Another said: "Not a big fan of pitch invasions and violence but #PatrickVieira is simply human and had to defend himself yester night. I hope #CrystalPalace don't fire him."

It comes shortly after a 30-year-old man was jailed for assaulting a Sheffield United player

A 30-year-old man has been jailed for assaulting Sheffield United's Billy Sharp on the pitch at the end of the Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

Sharp was knocked to the ground near the touchline at the City Ground.

Robert Biggs, of Derbyshire, was jailed for 24 weeks after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was ordered to pay Sharp £500 in compensation, as well as £85 in costs and a £128 victim surcharge.