Victoria Police have charged three men in relation to the mass pitch invasion at the A-League Men Melbourne derby on Saturday.
All three of the men, aged 23, 19 and 18, presented at police stations on Monday, Victoria Police said in a statement.
The 23-year-old man, from Craigieburn, was charged in relation to an alleged incident involving Melbourne City’s goalkeeper, Thomas Glover, who was struck in the head by a metal bucket full of sand.
He was charged with violent disorder, discharge missile, intent to cause injury, recklessly cause injury, unlawful assault, entry to sporting competition space, disrupting a match, public nuisance and riotous behaviour.
The 19-year-old man, from Meadow Heights, was charged in relation to a separate alleged assault on Glover, as well as an alleged assault on a security guard.
He was charged with violent disorder, discharge missile, three counts of unlawful assault, entry to competition space, disrupting a match, public nuisance, riotous behaviour, discharge and possess flare.
The 18-year-old man, from Alphington, was charged in relation to the separate assault on Glover, as well as criminal damage caused to the venue, AAMI Park stadium.
He was charged with violent disorder, criminal damage, unlawful assault, entry to competition space, disrupting a match, public nuisance and riotous behaviour.
All three of the men have been bailed to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on 27 February. Detectives are continuing to investigate Saturday night’s incident, including trawling through vision of the pitch invasion, and have appealed to the public for assistance. They believe more than 150 football fans ran onto the field.
Melbourne Victory have until Wednesday morning to respond to a show-cause notice issued to the club.
In their submission to Football Australia, the A-League Men’s club will have to show why they should escape heavy sanctions for the behaviour of their fans, who stormed on to the AAMI Park pitch, leaving a player, the match official and a camera operator injured, and causing the match to be abandoned.
Victory could be hit with financial penalties, the loss of competition points and playing matches behind closed doors or on neutral territory. The individuals involved face possible life bans from FA.
“The show cause notice has been sent after Football Australia reviewed all available footage and imagery from the match and received detailed incident and match reports from the match commissioner, match officials, AAMI Park management, and the Australian Professional Leagues, outlining incidents that took place on Saturday night,” an FA statement on Monday said.
City’s goalkeeper, Thomas Glover, was left bloodied after he was struck in the head by a metal bucket and required stitches to his face, while the referee, Alex King, was also injured. Both were recovering on Monday after being shaken by the invasion, but the injuries were not thought to be serious.
“What we all witnessed on Saturday night can only be described as horrific and conduct that is not consistent with the values of Australian football nor the expectations of our community,” James Johnson, the FA CEO, said on Monday.
A tinderbox atmosphere exploded when Glover picked up a flare that landed on the pitch and threw it back into the stands. But City have not as yet been issued with a show-cause notice and police said on Sunday they were “not upset by anything at this stage when it comes to that”.
Glover, who sported a protective dressing on his face upon returning to training on Monday, expressed his dismay at the events of Saturday night, particularly in light of the recent goodwill around the sport.
“The incident is disappointing for Australian football itself,” Glover told the Nine Network. “The Socceroos were unbelievable and [we were] hopefully riding the wave of that, but a small minority kind of ruins it.”
A police statement said approximately 50 flares were lit inside AAMI Park, and at least three were thrown onto the field. Along with Glover, King and the camera operator, two security guards were injured in the chaotic scenes, with $120,000 worth of damage caused.
FA said on Monday it was working with Victoria police and stadium security to identify individuals and ensure they were subject to banning procedures and possible criminal charges.
The governing body is also working on regulating the outcome of the match, which was called off in the 22nd minute with City leading 1-0.
“Our football stadiums must be safe places for our community to enjoy the game they love and our players and match officials to ply their trade,” Johnson said.
“Football Australia had a responsibility to intervene as soon as the match was called off to ensure this matter was addressed with the full regulatory and disciplinary powers at our disposal.
“The offenders who entered the field of play on Saturday night, causing havoc and assaulting a player, official, and cameraman have no place in our game. They are not welcome, and we will do everything we can to identify them and impose the sanctions they deserve.
“As we made clear on Saturday evening following the abandonment of the match, we will move quickly to properly investigate this matter and where appropriate, issue the strongest possible sanctions to the club and individuals involved.
“The show cause notice following our initial investigations is the next step in the process and will allow us to gather more crucial information before making our determination.”
Saturday night’s ugly scenes dampened optimism surrounding the game, which came off the back of the Socceroos’ successful World Cup run and with a Women’s World Cup to be played on home soil next year.
The pitch invasion has even prompted existential questions over the future of the game in Australia, but Western United’s coach, John Aloisi, said on Sunday it was now the time for those who love the game to stick together.
“Of course it hurt,” the former Socceroos striker said. “I felt sick watching it, I really did, but we won’t allow that to knock us down. I read so many people saying that’s the end of the A-Leagues and that it’s Australian football taking another backward step, but we should actually get together and be stronger.
“We should make sure that the minority and the idiots that caused that issue last night stay away.”