The man who Sam Kerr gave the ol’ hip and shoulder to when he invaded the pitch last week has been given no further punishment, which is some real bullshit.
Per Nine’s Wide World of Sports, London Metropolitan Police confirmed the man would not face any further charges, despite disrupting the Chelsea vs Juventus game to have a little trot around and try to take a selfie before being absolutely decimated by Sam Kerr’s left shoulder.
If that happened at a men’s sporting match the bloke would be blacklisted from football for life, likely wind up in the back of a divvy van and wake up the next day with a monster fine.
Thanks to a legal loophole about the classification of Women’s sporting events in the UK, the bloke looks like he’s going to get off pretty bloody lightly.
Per The Athletic, it all comes down to what each code’s matches are classed as — men’s games are seen as “designated football matches” and are therefore covered by the 1991 Football (Offences) Act, while Women’s games simply fall under general public legislation instead of dedicated football laws.
With the general public legislation, pitch invaders don’t get anything more than escorted off the field, so long as they don’t commit a further crime on the field, like indecent exposure or assault.
WWOS also reported that a police presence is not a done thing at women’s football matches unless there’s a specific need for them to be there beyond general security.
The UK Home Office issued a statement on Monday, which claimed that both men’s and women’s designated games are covered by the Football (Offences) Act, but only when there’s a high risk of “disorder” present.
“Matches are designated based on the history of incidents and the assessment of risk,” a Home Office spokesperson said.
“Where matches are not designated, they are subject to generic public order legislation that applies to them as well as other sporting events.”
Further update from @UKHomeOffice. Chelsea's game *was* covered as it was against an overseas team. Women's international matches also covered – but not domestic club games.
They say that "matches are designated based on the history of incidents and the assessment of risk". pic.twitter.com/KrQcj3zmG7
— Adam Millington (@AdamGMillington) December 13, 2021
To me, that says that safety in women’s sport and at women’s games is not as important to British authorities as it is for men.
Sure men’s professional leagues have been around far longer, and have a known issue with hooliganism and violence, but why is the same protection and security not extended to women’s leagues? Why should men feel like they have the power and ability to jump the fence and stop play at a professional-level match to have a jog around and take some selfies?
The masculine urge to assert dominance at a women-focused event, I swear to God.
Perhaps the same level of consequences are not applied because the riotous crowd energy hasn’t surfaced at women’s games yet but shouldn’t the bar of expectation be set early to stave off negative behaviour, instead of being brought in once an incident occurs?
And if the Women’s Champions League does have the ability to be covered by the Football (Offences) Act like men’s leagues, should that not just be the norm as opposed to waiting for something bad to happen and then implementing tighter security for players and punters alike?
Following the pitch invasion and Sam Kerr’s bump that was heard around the world, the BBC reported that several British MPs wrote to the parliamentary under-secretary for sport with concerns about the inconsistencies in security at men’s and women’s games.
“We were shocked,” the eight MPs wrote.
“Given the growth of the professional women’s game, this is enormously worrying.
“We strongly urge you to consider an immediate change to the legislation to ensure that professional women’s football is listed as a designated match thus bringing parity of protection to female footballers afforded to their male counterparts.”
And look, at the end of the day, if Sam Kerr doesn’t have to put up with this shit while captaining a Matildas game, she sure as hell shouldn’t have to put up with having her safety at risk while playing for Chelsea in the Women’s Champions League.Image: Getty Images / John Walton / PA Images