Over the weekend, multiple question marks were raised over security at English football games following a vicious attack by a Birmingham City fan on Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish in the Championship. If that wasn’t enough, there was trouble at the top level too when an Arsenal fan ran on to the field and shoved Manchester United’s Chris Smalling at the Emirates Stadium.
The incident happened shortly after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted a 69th-minute penalty to give the Gunners a 2-0 lead against United. After pushing Smalling, the man ran with his arms aloft towards the Gunners players who were celebrating the goal.
Smalling was unhurt and the fan was taken off the pitch and arrested.
Incident here in Sky video with fan able to run onto Arsenal pitch and seem to push Chris Smalling pic.twitter.com/m3hO4X97K2
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) 10 March 2019
An Arsenal spokesperson said: “We utterly condemn the behaviour of the individual who ran on to the pitch and approached Chris Smalling during today’s match.
“We would like to apologise to Chris and Manchester United, and are pleased that [the spectator] was apprehended and arrested. We will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation.
“The individual will also be banned from Arsenal matches home and away. Our matchday staff receive ongoing training on managing incidents such as this.”
Shortly after the match, a statement from the Metropolitan Police, which looks at the London zone, said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and pitch invasion following an incident during the Arsenal v Man Utd game at the Emirates Stadium today. He is currently in custody at a north London police station.”
“That’s the third time a fan has managed to get on the pitch (this weekend),” said United’s Ashley Young to reporters. “What if they are carrying something? The players will be in danger.”
“It’s definitely something the FA, the Premier League and FIFA have got to do something about. I don’t know if it’s extra stewarding or what but it’s a concern with the one earlier today and the one on Chrissy. Something has got to be done.”
On Friday, a man was arrested after in Scotland after Rangers’ James Tavernier was confronted by a spectator during the draw with Hibs. A week earlier, a glass bottle was thrown from the same section of the stadium as Celtic winger Scott Sinclair prepared to take a corner kick during a game at Hibernian.