Merseyside police confirm inquiries into Patrick Vieira altercation with fan

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Merseyside police have said they are looking into an incident at Everton on Thursday night in which Patrick Vieira appeared to aim a kick at a man taunting him.

The Crystal Palace manager was involved in a confrontation with a fan on the pitch after his side’s 3-2 defeat, when Everton supporters invaded the playing area to celebrate their team avoiding relegation. The Football Association confirmed it was also looking into the incident involving Vieira and two pitch invasions by home fans.

Related: Fans’ ugly behaviour is not just about football – it’s about society | Jonathan Wilson

Merseyside police said: “We are working with Everton to gather all available CCTV footage and are speaking to witnesses. No formal complaint has been received and inquiries are ongoing.”

A video clip appears to show a fan gesturing in Vieira’s face and the former Arsenal player then responding by grabbing the man and swinging a kick at him, before other supporters come to his aid and usher him away. Crystal Palace have been approached for comment.

Merseyside police have confirmed four arrests have been made in relation to the Palace match. Three males were arrested on suspicion of entering or attempting to enter a football ground while in possession of a flare, smoke bomb or firework and will attend for voluntary interview at a later date. One male was arrested for a breach of the peace and later de-arrested, police said.

Northamptonshire police have confirmed they are investigating an incident at Northampton on Wednesday when a pitch invader barged into Mansfield’s Jordan Bowery.

Eddie Howe warned pitch invasions could lead to a “potential tragedy”, Newcastle’s manager saying of pitch invasions: “I don’t mind the celebrational aspect – embracing the success that a team has had is part of football, I’ve got no issue with that. It’s the aggression towards the opposition, it’s swarms of people around one or two people. That doesn’t sit well with me at all; that’s something we have to act very quickly [on] because we want to avert potential tragedy.

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Chief constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire police, the UK football policing lead, said he was alarmed by the rise in the number of fans entering the pitch. “This has at times resulted in assaults and altercations with players, managers and club staff – which is totally unacceptable,” he said. “The pitch is the players’ place of work and like everyone else, they should be able to feel safe.”

“That will be, frankly, an absolute failure of us all if we ever went back to a situation where there were fences around the ground,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s not safe, we don’t want it and we’d like to think we can manage it without that.

“I think sadly the clubs may have to look at some sort of investment about how do you keep people off the playing surface without erecting fences? You see some mechanisms that are around Wembley, which make it difficult for people to get on the pitch quickly, which seems to be quite effective. They can be collapsed in need of emergency should you need to evacuate people on the pitch. So I think it’s incumbent on us all to look at a range of measures.”

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