English FA investigates violence in Cup semi-final

The FA have confirmed that an inquiry has been launched into the prolonged outbreaks of fighting among the Millwall contingent of supporters towards the end of SaturdayÔÇÖs FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

Millwall have already said that lifetime bans will be issued to any supporters identified as being involved in fighting both fellow fans and the police ÔÇô actions described as ÔÇÿdeplorableÔÇÖ by the Football Association ÔÇô during their FA Cup semi-final defeat against Wigan Athletic at Wembley.

Ugly scenes of punches being thrown and supporters left with bloodied faces were broadcast to a global audience and footage was shown of one fan concealing a police officerÔÇÖs hat under his coat.

Baton-wielding police were deployed to stem the violence, while television footage showed young children in tears at the mayhem around them, and the scenes prompted a withering statement from FA general secretary Alex Horne.

He said: ÔÇ£The Metropolitan Police and The FA are this evening investigating scenes of sporadic violence and disorder in the Millwall FC end at todayÔÇÖs FA Cup Semi-Final.

ÔÇ£The FA and Wembley Stadium will work with police and representatives of Millwall FC to review all events. We will look to ensure those involved are identified and we would call for criminal charges and a football banning order to be brought against them.

“The FA deplore the scenes which have taken place, which are unacceptable. Everything will be done to take action against those involved.ÔÇØ

The violence is likely to lead to questions over the policing and stewarding of the fixture, with blows being traded by groups of fans for at least two minutes before officers arrived to break up the troublemakers.

With Wembley to host an England friendly against Ireland next month, the security procedures at the national stadium are sure to be re-evaluated.

The wisdom of allowing the tie to kick-off at 5.15pm is likely to come under scrutiny, with many supporters freely drinking in the immediate vicinity of the stadium prior to the game.

A decision to allow tickets for the game to go on general sale will also be questioned, particularly with MillwallÔÇÖs supporters being tainted by a reputation for trouble.

With violence inside the stadium subsequently spilling onto Wembley Way following the final whistle, the Metropolitan Police last night made 10 arrests.

A police spokesperson said: ÔÇ£Ten people have been arrested following sporadic disorder among fans in the Millwall supporters area at Wembley today. The investigation into the circumstances of the incident is ongoing.ÔÇØ

Millwall manager Kenny Jackett refused to condemn the violence until he had personally seen the footage of the trouble. ÔÇ£I didnÔÇÖt see, or wasnÔÇÖt aware of, any fighting during the game,ÔÇØ Jackett said.

ÔÇ£I was concentrating on the game, so I will need to examine the facts and talk to people before I give an opinion on it. IÔÇÖm not saying it didnÔÇÖt happen, but IÔÇÖve not seen the footage.ÔÇØ

With Millwall making strenuous efforts to clean up the clubÔÇÖs reputation, Jackett admitted this latest outbreak of violence will do little to help those efforts.

Meanwhile, an Everton fan was hospitalised with a stab wound to the chest after an altercation following the home sideÔÇÖs 2-0 win against QPR.

An Everton spokesman said: ÔÇ£We can confirm police are investigating an incident after todayÔÇÖs fixture following which an Everton fan required hospital treatment.ÔÇØ

by @prolixir.