Radio Sandwell Sport

Chris Kirkland attacked by Leeds United fan

2012-10-20 17:39:12

Chris Kirkland

The Football Association has launched an investigation into the incident which saw Sheffield Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland attacked by a fan.

Kirkland, 31, required treatment after he was struck in the face during the Yorkshire derby against Leeds United.

Police say they have identified the man who ran onto the Hillsborough pitch seconds after Michael Tonge's equaliser in Friday's 1-1 draw.

Owls boss Dave Jones called for Leeds fans to be banned from away grounds.

"We are investigating the events of last night and awaiting the referee's report," said an FA spokesman.

"The FA condemns the scenes at Hillsborough. We have begun an immediate investigation and have been in contact with both clubs.

"We would call for the authorities to identify and bring before the courts anyone who was involved in any form of criminal disorder."

The attacker, who ran from the Leppings Lane end housing over 5,000 Leeds fans, struck former Liverpool and England keeper Kirkland with such force he fell to the ground.

Det Insp Mark Monteiro, South Yorkshire Police's senior investigating officer, said the force are now trying to locate and arrest the man.

He said: "With the public's assistance we have clearly identified the offender who ran onto the pitch during the game between Sheffield Wednesday FC and Leeds United FC and who is suspected of assaulting the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper.

"We are dealing with the complaint made by the player and we are currently taking statements, collating evidence and making enquiries to locate and arrest the offender."

Wednesday manager Jones, who was taunted by visiting fans during the game, told BBC Radio 5 live: "They are vile animals. You talk about racism [but] the chanting, that's a form of racism.

"They should be banned from every away ground if they're going to behave like that.

"They [Leeds fans] are all going to get tarred with the same brush and that's not right, but they will do and they should do because it wasn't one person chanting the vile things.

"I thought those days had gone 15 or 20 years ago. They should be punished. I've had it for 12 years and it is just upsetting that they are able to do it.

"The authorities have to look at it and sort it. I'm talking about an incident when we should be talking about the football."

Jones was also angry that Leeds manager Neil Warnock instructed his players to applaud the away fans at the end of the game.

"I really am fuming that he sent his players to clap them. For what? Wrecking a stadium, beating up my goalkeeper?" he added.

South Yorkshire Police have issued a statement saying they were also investigating incidents "where it is believed seats and bottles were thrown" inside the ground.

Kirkland was able to finish the game but Jones said the player was "sore", "dazed" and "maybe concussed" in the dressing room.

Warnock, who offered to calm both sets of fans down in the first half as tensions rose, admitted he was "embarrassed" to be a manager.

"I thought it was an absolute disgrace. They should get the guy, prosecute him, put him in prison," he said.

"I'm not proud to be Leeds manager when I see that.

"I don't mind the atmosphere, there's been elbows flying, but to see things like that on the field of play, I'm embarrassed."

Kirkland, who joined the Owls from Wigan in May on a two-year contract, won one England cap in 2006 when he came on as a substitute in a 4-0 friendly win against Greece at Old Trafford.

Leeds released a statement after the game.

It read: "Leeds United would like to publicly apologise and condemn the action of the fan who came on the pitch and attacked Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.

"The club will fully co-operate with the police and the football authorities in identifying the individual concerned.

"After the week football has endured there is no place for this type of behaviour and the majority of Leeds supporters will be ashamed of his actions."

Ray Fell, chairman of the Leeds United Supporters' Club, said he was "distressed" at what had happened.

"I sincerely hope the lad is found and sentenced," Fell told BBC Radio 5 live.

"A custodial sentence would be fitting. It is distressing. The majority of the Leeds fans in the crowd did not approve of the chanting and certainly not the lad who ran on the pitch."

A South Yorkshire Police statement read: "During the match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United at Hillsborough, incidents have occurred where it is believed seats and bottles were thrown inside the ground.

"Such incidents are not acceptable and we will be working with both clubs to identify quickly the persons responsible.

"Thankfully, such incidents are a rarity when we see a minority spoil it for the majority of genuine supporters."


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