The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) believes that football cannot gamble over a player or manager being injured due to pitch invasions. PFA chief executive Maheta Molango expressed his concern about the exposure of players and staff after a series of pitch invasions in the last couple of weeks. Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp was headbutted with the perpetrator jailed subsequently. Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted in a pitch invasion following their Premier League-winning victory. Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation at Goodison Park after his side was beaten by Everton to secure their Premier League status.
“Who knows what can happen in the future. We just cannot afford to take a gamble on that,” PFA chief Maheta Molango said about pitch invasions. “A lot of the time the feeling of impunity is what drives people to behave in a way which is not acceptable. Once people know that you’ll be traced, you’ll be tracked and you’ll be punished, then I think it would be an element that hopefully will help people behave better.”
“I think we need to make sure that adequate lessons are learned based on what has happened and hopefully we can make sure people understand it,” he added. “In the end, the pitch is the workplace of the players and the managers and I think sometimes we tend to forget that. I think every one of us would like to go to work thinking that he or she can be safe and I think that should be the goal.”
“As a player stranded on the field, you quickly become outnumbered, surrounded, and vulnerable,” Molango continued. “It is a frightening situation to experience. In what can be a chaotic environment – where you are being grabbed, bumped into, and shouted at by fans – it is impossible to know who presents a threat and, potentially, who may be intent on causing serious harm.”