Fans who invade the pitch should get lifetime bans - PFA chair

Supporters who invade the pitch and assault players must be banned for life, says Professional Footballers’ Association chairman John Mousinho.

A Leicester City fan has been charged by police after running on to the pitch to approach Nottingham Forest players.

Mousinho said players do not know if they “want a selfie or have a knife”.

“I can’t see a reason for a fan to be allowed back into a football stadium if they come on to the pitch and assault a player,” he said.

Mousinho, a defender for League One Oxford United, added: “It’s a conscious choice. The term has to be large enough for people to decide they are not going to do it.

“Where fans come on the pitch, especially where there is an interaction with players, the harshest possible ban and consequences from a football point of view and a legal standpoint are needed, we would encourage that.

"From a players' union view, when fans come on the pitch the players' first instinct is to protect themselves. The guideline is for players to stay away but if someone is running at you, you don't know if they are coming for a selfie or if they have a knife."

Professional Footballers' Association chairman John Mousinho.

Nottinghamshire Police said Cameron Toner, 19, of Leicester, had been charged with three counts of common assault and a separate offence of going on to a playing area at a football match for his actions during Forest’s FA Cup win over the Premier League side.

Toner has been banned for life by Leicester, while earlier this month Rotherham gave two supporters lifetime bans after a pitch invasion where Harry Pell appeared to be struck as he prepared to take a penalty against Accrington.

“That’s a real concern and it’s never really been flagged before because most of the time, if you get a pitch invader, there’s a jovial atmosphere around how many stewards they can evade,” added Mousinho.

“Now there’s an aspect of violence which is really worrying. It’s really shocking and concerning. Hopefully it’s an isolated few weeks in an isolated season but it’s something we need to get on top of very quickly.”

Original article published 17.02.2022 on the BBC Sport website

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