Why Glover should have been suspended for flare throw

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Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover was back playing at AAMI Park on Tuesday night after narrowly escaping suspension for a controversial incident last time out. 

While Melbourne City fans were relieved to see Glover back in action, others were understandably confused, expecting the goalkeeper to be suspended for his actions during Melbourne City’s last match.

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During their previous outing against Melbourne Victory on December 17, fans had been throwing flares onto the pitch in protest against the APL’s decision to host the next three A-League Men grand finals in Sydney.

Glover picked up two of the flares, throwing one on the field behind his goal and throwing the other into a stand of Melbourne Victory fans.

This led to the violent pitch invasion by Victory fans and the assault of Glover, referee Alex King, and a Network 10 cameraman.

The behaviour of the involved fans was completely out of line and deserving of the subsequent bans that have been issued by Football Australia. However, there should have been consequences for Glover’s actions too.

An independent match review panel was formed to assess the situation, but it was ultimately ruled that they had no jurisdiction to pass judgement as Glover’s actions occurred before the match was abandoned. Therefore, it was up to the acting referee, Alex King, to decide whether Glover’s actions warranted a red card.

In his match report, King stated that he believed that Glover had not purposely thrown the flare into the stands and as such, did not deserve the red card.

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However, this incident should not be judged based on Glover’s intentions. The fact of the matter is, the smoke bomb was thrown into the stands and could have injured one of the fans seated there.

Some pyrotechnics can reach up to 1200 degrees and can continue to burn even after being discarded. Smoke bombs also emit toxic fumes that can lead to acute airway and lung injury when inhaled.

There have been no reports that anyone was injured by the smoke bomb that was thrown into the stand, but any threat to the safety of spectators should be treated seriously.

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In other football leagues, incidents like these have led to consequences for the involved player.

Earlier this year, former Everton forward Richarlison was charged with improper conduct by the Football Association (FA) and received a one-match ban for throwing a flare during a match against Chelsea in May.

The Brazilian striker had just scored the only goal of the game and picked up one of the flares that were thrown onto the field. In an act of celebration, Richarlison threw the pyrotechnic which landed in an empty part of the ground near the stands.

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In this situation, the flare wasn’t even thrown into the stands and wasn’t at risk of injuring anyone, but the FA recognised the reckless and dangerous nature of the act and punished the player accordingly.

This same attitude should have been applied to Glover’s case to demonstrate that any risk to the safety of fans and match attendees – intentional or not – is not tolerated.

Football is a sport that is enjoyed by Australians of all ages. The safety of spectators, as well as players, should be prioritised, which Football Australia and match officials have failed to do in this situation.

Feature image credit: Melbourne City

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Jasmine Singh
Jasmine Singh
One of the two journalists covering the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Central Coast Mariners for the 2022/23 season. Studying a Bachelor of Media (Communications and Journalism) / Bachelor of International Studies at the University of New South Wales. A true crime addict and dog lover.

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