English soccer’s ruling body opened an investigation after Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was hit by an object thrown from the crowd at the end of yesterday’s Premier League match at Manchester City.
The incident came amid angry crowd scenes as United players celebrated an injury-time goal by Robin van Persie that gave his team a 3-2 win at their opponents’ Etihad Stadium. Defender Ferdinand seemed to be hit by a coin, sustaining a cut above an eye and wiping blood from his face.
“It is disappointing that after a great game and advert for the Premier League that we are discussing this issue,” the Football Association said on its website. “We will work with the clubs and authorities to identify those responsible and support the strongest sanctions available, including life bans.”
The F.A. said it will liaise with Greater Manchester Police and await reports from its crowd control adviser who was present at the game and the match referee Martin Atkinson.
The ruling body said it was “simply unacceptable that any player is exposed to injury in this way. To witness Rio Ferdinand leaving the field with a cut above his eye to receive treatment is appalling.”
League champion City apologized over the incident.
“Manchester City wishes to offer its sincere apologies to Rio Ferdinand,” City said on its website. “The club unreservedly condemns the actions which led to his being injured.”
City said its security officials are “cooperating fully with Greater Manchester Police in relation to events leading up to the throwing of missiles onto the field of play, and between the two sets of supporters, during today’s game.”
City added that the police’s review of fan behavior at the match will be fully supported by the club, through the provision of closed-circuit footage and eyewitness accounts. The club pledged to “apply its own disciplinary policies for any fans found guilty of offenses.”
After Ferdinand was hit, a City fan ran on the field and approached him before being intercepted by City goalkeeper Joe Hart and led away.
United manager Alex Ferguson condemned the unruly incidents surrounding the winning goal, which left his team six points clear of City at the top of the standings.
“It’s just unfortunate towards the end a City fan runs on and then they throw coins at our players and that,” he told Sky Sports. “Two fantastic teams today, I think, and a fantastic game of football, and it could do without that.”
Ferdinand commented about the incident on social networking site Twitter.
“What a result, 3 points! Sweet! Whoever threw that coin, what a shot!” he said. “Can’t believe it was a copper 2p....could have at least been a £1 coin!”