Monday 16 September 2019

Five arrests made after attacks on Neil Lennon and assistant referee at chaotic Edinburgh derby

Referee speaks with Neil Lennon in Hearts match
Referee speaks with Neil Lennon in Hearts match
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Police have made an arrest over an alleged assault on an assistant referee at Wednesday's chaotic Edinburgh derby, which also saw Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon and Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal floored by attacks.

Zlamal appeared to be struck by the arm of a fan in the Hibs end as he went to retrieve the ball from behind his goal and Lennon was hit in the face by a pound coin seconds after Hearts had a stoppage-time winner disallowed.

Chief Inspector Murray Starkey, match commander, said: "I can confirm we are investigating two separate incidents involving the Hearts goalkeeper and the Hibernian manager during the match.

"A 25-year-old man has been arrested and charged in relation to an assault involving the assistant referee. A total of five arrests have been made."

The Scottish players' union called for action before someone is seriously injured at a football ground.

PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said: "It is like Groundhog Day as it seems we are continually having to discuss and address issues like this happening at football grounds across the country.

"After last night's incidents at Tynecastle, we stress again that any form of verbal abuse, violence or the throwing of objects at players and managers needs to be taken seriously and we trust that the authorities will take the appropriate action to ensure that this dangerous practice is stopped.

"The football pitch is a player's place of work and it is not unreasonable for a player, like any other employee, to be able to work with the knowledge that their workplace is indeed a safe environment, free from violence and discrimination and that their health and safety is not at risk.

"Any form of abuse - verbal or physical - is wholly unacceptable and it is of paramount importance that something is done before someone is seriously hurt or maimed."

The Scottish Professional Football League vowed to work closely with the police and clubs to identify the culprits.

The SPFL is the body responsible for security and fan behaviour at league matches but has rarely taken action against clubs.

An SPFL spokesperson said: "The Edinburgh derby is rightly regarded as one of the most passionate and exciting fixtures in the Scottish football calendar - but a number of incidents last night are not acceptable.

"We await the contents of the SPFL match delegate report and will work closely with both clubs and Police Scotland to identify those involved."

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