Uefa increases security after Cristiano Ronaldo confronted by six pitch invaders

Pitch invader with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo before being detained by stewards/Portugal demand Uefa increase security after Cristiano Ronaldo approached by six pitch invaders
Cristiano Ronaldo appeared frustrated by the constant pitch invasions - Reuters/Leon Kuegeler

Uefa has announced security will be beefed up in stadiums for the remainder of Euro 2024 over concerns for player safety after Cristiano Ronaldo was repeatedly targeted by selfie-hunting pitch invaders.

Ronaldo cut an increasingly frustrated and despairing figure during Portugal’s 3-0 win over Turkey at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund on Saturday after six separate pitch invaders tried to get to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Roberto Martinez, the Portugal coach, warned that the safety of players was at risk and, as revealed by Telegraph Sport, the situation prompted the Portuguese football federation (FPF) to write formally to Uefa and the tournament’s organising committee at the German football association (DFB) to demand security measures were ramped up at games.

Now Uefa has announced that security will be tightened and warned fans that anyone encroaching the pitch will face criminal action and be banned from attending all matches at the tournament.

“Safety and security in the stadium, on the pitch and at team facilities are the ultimate priority for UEFA, DFB and EURO 2024 GmbH,” a Uefa spokesperson said.

“To this end, additional safety measures will be deployed in the stadiums to further meet the requirements of the tournament, and to prevent such incidents.

“For reasons of security, we cannot comment further on specific measures. As a reminder, any incursion onto the pitch constitutes a breach of the stadium rules and will result in expulsion from the stadium, a ban from all tournament matches and the filing of a formal criminal complaint for trespass.”

Uefa’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) received reports from German referee Felix Zwayer and the Uefa match delegate Peter Lundstrom, from Finland, in addition to listening to the FPF’s concerns.

A young fan was the first to evade stewards in the 69th minute and Ronaldo responded by agreeing to pose for a selfie before the youngster was escorted away by security amid cheers from fans and giggles from the Al-Nassr striker’s children, who were sat in the stands with his partner Georgina Rodriguez.

Young pitch invader takes a selfie with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo
The first pitch invader was recieved warmly by Ronaldo - Reuters/Carmen Jaspersen

But the mood gradually darkened as other fans attempted to invade the pitch to get to Ronaldo in a series of major security lapses.

The second pitch invader, an older fan, grabbed Ronaldo around the neck before being peeled off the visibly irritated former Manchester United and Real Madrid star by a steward. The four subsequent pitch invaders – two of which happened at the final whistle – were apprehended by stewards before they could reach Ronaldo.

The mood quickly changed as more individuals approached Ronaldo
The mood quickly changed as more individuals approached Ronaldo - Getty Images/Anadolu
Stewards again have to intervene as Ronaldo walks away
Stewards again have to intervene as Ronaldo walks away - PA/Nick Potts

Martinez voiced his concerns and warned that players were being left totally exposed. “It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good,” the Portugal coach said.

“I think we all love a fan that recognises the big stars and the big icons in their minds, we all agree with that. But you can understand it was a very, very difficult moment – if those intentions are wrong, the players are exposed and we need to be careful with that.

“I don’t think that should happen on a football pitch. There is a lot of security and a lot of protection and I don’t think that should happen.”

Martinez suggested fans needed to be reminded of the importance of not entering the pitch.

“Probably we should give a message to the fans: ‘It’s not the right way, you’re not going to get anything out of it’,” he said.

“And what you do, probably the measures get worse for the future. It’s not good to get the players so exposed when you have people running on the pitch.”

Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo’s Portugal team-mate, said the players were less concerned for their safety and more irritated by the persistent delays caused by the pitch invasions.

“It’s not really concerned, it’s just a bit annoying in terms of having to stop the game because a fan enters the pitch,” the Manchester City forward said. “That is the price you pay for being recognised in the world of football. Feeling in danger? I don’t think so. Not me at least.”