Everton give life ban to child-holding fan who attacked Lyon player

Andy Hunter on 20 October 2017

Everton have said they will ban for life the fan who appeared to hit the Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes while holding a young child during a melee at Goodison Park on Thursday.

The club said they had identified the supporter following an internal investigation into the disturbances and registered a formal complaint against the individual with Merseyside police.

The police have opened their own investigation into the melee between Everton and Lyon players in front of the Gwladys Street end in which more than one fan became involved.

The shocking scenes that erupted after Ashley Williams, the Everton captain for the night, pushed Lopes into advertising hoardings during his team’s 2-1 defeat have also prompted a response from Uefa. It has opened disciplinary proceedings against Everton for “aggressions by supporters against players”.

Approximately 20 players were involved in the pitch-side incident that followed. One fan, carrying a small child in his left arm, appeared to aim a punch at Lopes.

Everton have acted swiftly, saying in a statement: “Club officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players.

“We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside police.”

Lopes, a Portugal international, said: “I don’t think it is part of the English atmosphere to hit an away player, but it was like this. It was no big deal. It happened and that was it. For me it seemed to wake up the fans and they seemed to love it.” The former Chelsea player Bertrand Traoré, who scored the winning goal, added: “There was a supporter who punched him [Lopes]. I think it’s not normal.”

Merseyside police are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the incident, which raises the possibility of players and supporters forming part of their inquiries.

A police statement said: “Officers are investigating following a disturbance on the pitch during a football match between Everton and Lyon at Goodison Park last night. Detectives will be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses to establish what, if any, offences have been committed. Anyone with information which could assist the investigation is asked to contact Merseyside Police on 0151 777 4065 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Uefa’s charge against Everton will be handled by its control, ethics and disciplinary body on 16 November, a week before the club host Atalanta in the Europa League. It is possible Williams will face separate action from the governing body. That depends on what is in the referee Bas Nijhuis’s report, with the Dutch official booking Williams at the time.

Ronald Koeman has admitted Williams should have shown more self-restraint in the second-half flashpoint. Everton’s under-pressure manager had suggested after the game that Nijhuis was partly to blame for Everton’s frustrations. However, having reviewed the incident, he believes the experienced Wales international allowed recent errors for club and country to erupt in his confrontation with the Lyon goalkeeper.

Koeman said: “On one hand I understand frustration and disappointment because everybody was disappointed but you need to control yourself. I understand his situation of yesterday. His personal situation is difficult after going out of the World Cup with Wales, and he has made some mistakes that have cost a goal, but he showed his face yesterday. He played well and was captain on the pitch but in the brawl he needed to control himself.”

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