This incident could have been much worse. Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt, though that doesn’t excuse the idiocy that transpired during the first half at Villa Park.
Just past the half-hour, assistant referee David Bryan was hit just below the new by a smoke bomb lobbed from the Tottenham supporters’ section, an incident that’s already sparked an investigation from England’s Football Association. The device, thrown from the Doug Ellis Stand after an Andros Townsend goal, hit Bryan between the shoulder blades, and while there was a momentary pause, Bryan was uninjured.
Via Twitter, West Midlands police announced the arrest of two men in connection with the incident.
“Police have arrested 2 men after a lit flare was thrown on the pitch during the Villa v Spurs game – the flare hit a linesman. The two men aged 25 and 47 were arrested following the incident at Villa Park. Fortunately the linesman wasn’t injured.”
Asked about the incident after the match, Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas issued the obligatory condemnation:
“Obviously it is not great to see. It should be avoided completely. I think it touched the linesman.
“I think situations like this do not have a place in football. I sincerely hope it does not happen again.”
The FA also issued a statement via the governing body’s Twitter account:
“The FA will investigate the matter, which is unacceptable. We will await the match officials’ report and will be speaking to the clubs. Such incidents highlight the dangers of pyrotechnics being used in a football stadium.”
In England, possession of a smoke bomb at a football ground carries a maximum sentence of three months, sanctions which take care of the criminal realm. In soccer terms, let’s hope these guys have attended their last professional match.