This Saturday the FA cup quarter final between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion were played in Villa Park, the home stadium of Aston Villa. Villa won the game 2-0, and after the final whistle Villa fans stormed the pitch in celebration.
For television viewers it can be fun to watch fans be so ecstatic after a win and fun to see them want to celebrate with the players, like these fans did after Watford secured promotion to the Premier League a few seasons ago, but it is a pretty serious matter. When fans are able to go onto the pitch alongside players and staff, it becomes a security risk, as you can see and read here.
Villa player Fabian Delph claimed in an interview after the game that one of the fans actually bit him when they tried to kiss him. West Brom manager Tony Pulis called the invasion a disgrace and called the fans for idiots in an interview after the game.
During the 70’s and 80’a pitch invasion was a regular threat in English football, therefore the FA will take at this incident very seriously. Aston Villa will probably receive a big fine and maybe face other consequences as well, and the Villa fans they can identify will probably be given lifetime bans. The fact that it happened twice in the same game makes it worse. First some fans ran onto the pitch after Villa scored their second goal late on in the game, then thousands of fans stormed the pitch after the final whistle.
It can be tricky trying to figure out a way to keep thousands of enthusiastic fans in their seats without resorting to violence and other harsh reactions, so I hope that the FA will give out big punishments to both the club and the fans to scare off others thinking about doing the same thing.