The supporter who ran on to the field during the Women’s Champions League clash between Chelsea and Juventus on Wednesday has avoided any legal punishment due, with some blaming an outdated law which does not recognise all women’s matches as official games.
A man clambered out of the Chelsea end and on to the pitch, filming himself on what looked like a leisurely stroll as no security challenged him whatsoever, with Blues forward Sam Kerr growing tired of the infraction and slamming the invader to the ground.
Even after that, the man was allowed to walk off the pitch on his own accord, with two stewards ushering him away from afar.
Normally, such an act would see a pitch invader physically dragged off by police, with section 4 of the 1991 Football Law stating: “It is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove).”
We then got a bit of confusion as to why this pitch invader was not arrested. The Athletic claimed that women’s matches are somehow not actually considered as ‘designated football matches’, noting that WSL games are not recognised and claiming that Champions League games get the same treatment.
However, an update from the Home Office (via Adam Millington) stressed that Champions League games are actually covered, but domestic women’s football is not classed as ‘designated’ and therefore does not automatically receive a police presence.
That ‘designated’ description is given to matches with a history of crowd trouble which may require a police presence, and the current guidelines do not cover women’s domestic football for that reason.
It’s a clear oversight in the rulebook, and one which Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was keen to get sorted out.
“We do have to think about player safety,” said Hayes after the incident. “We’ve seen in the growth of the game there is this sense of the players being more in demand. It should serve as a reminder to us all in our stadiums and with our stewards we’ve got to put player protection first.”
Why there was no police involved to stop this pitch invader is a question which needs to be asked of those responsible. Fortunately, this fan meant no harm.