Violent scenes both on and off the pitch marred the final two Premier Division games before the Christmas break, with unsavoury scenes at the end of both Gib Utd’s 1-0 defeat to St Joseph’s, and Lincoln’s 4-0 victory over Gib Phoenix.
The GFA, who have condemned these acts of violence, have launched an investigation into both incidents, which soured what should have been two great games as we went into the Christmas break.
On Monday, the end of Gib United v St Joseph’s saw two Gib United and one St Joseph’s player sent off in a brawl which saw veteran Gibraltarian Al Greene convincingly punch opponent Xavi Carmona in the process. Said brawl, which was sparked by a nasty tackle by Gib United’s Dani Ponce, took several minutes to deal with and considering both teams were known to hate each other after events last season, the game was perhaps not handled with as well as it needed to by either the referee, Jason Barcelo, or the managers of either team who should have been able to keep their players calm.
The following night, Lincoln took on Gib Phoenix with the match marred when a fight broke out in the stands between fans of both team at the end of the game after an incident on the pitch. Phoenix’s Juan Manuel Llaves clashed with Joseph Chipolina of Lincoln, aiming a headbutt in the process, but with Phoenix adamant that the linesman had told referee Yaro Borg to send both players off, only for the referee to only send off Llaves, both players and staff kicked off, before fans from both sides also had their altercation. The game had also flared up just before half-time, after Lincoln’s first goal, where the Phoenix bench kicked off at not winning a foul in the build-up to said goal – manager Juan Maria Sanchez and a member of his staff sent to the stands for the manner of their protestations at the 4th official.
In a statement given yesterday, the GFA said: “The GFA is aware that a number of violent incidents, both on and off the field off play, have taken place during matches at the Victoria Stadium recently. The GFA condemns these acts of violence which have no place in our game. An investigation into the incidents has been launched and the GFA will make further comment on this in due course.”
FG says – These incidents, while shocking, were not entirely surprising in a season which has already seen almost one red card every two games shown to players. Tensions have clearly been high, but in too many games such tension had spilled over into genuine anger, and more often than not it is the officials taking the brunt of it, especially the fourth officials who often are confronted by a bench when even the most minor of decisions goes against a team. Strong action needs to be taken soon to curb out these issues, otherwise a season which is potentially offering a great title race will only be remembered for acts of violence and stupidity both on and off the pitch, and people will be put off going to games, hurting what are already very bad attendance figures for a league which deserves more fan interest.