Europa League: Sturm Graz under fire after official is left bloodied
Fan hits assistant referee with a cup in the tie between Sturm Graz and AEK Larnaca
Austrian side Sturm Graz risk being thrown out of the Europa League after one of their fans threw an object at an assistant referee and cut his head during their home tie against Cypriot club AEK Larnaca last night.
Television footage shows a fan in the stand launch what appears to be a large plastic cup full of liquid. The incident happened in the 77th minute at the Merkur Arena and the object hit Swedish official Fredrik Klyver flush on the head, sending him reeling to the ground as blood poured from an ugly gash.
Both sides were taken off the field for 24 minutes as Klyver received treatment and he was eventually taken to hospital with his head heavily bandaged.
Stefan Johannesson, the head of the Swedish FA, expressed his surprise that the match was not abandoned. “It is Uefa who decides, but personally, I do not understand why they make such a decision [to continue],” he told reporters. “Had this happened in Sweden, we would have [abandoned the match].”
Larnaca won the tie 2-0 and the two sides meet in Cyprus for the second leg next Thursday – if the Austrians haven’t been expelled from the tournament.
The person who threw the cup was arrested and is expected to face criminal charges.
“This behaviour of a fan in today’s Uefa Europa League game is by no means acceptable,” said Sturm in a statement. “This damages the reputation of football and us as a club. We always try to see football as a positive celebration and to tackle these things.
“Fair play is our top priority. We are sorry that today we have disappointed many football fans. Sturm Graz wishes the linesman all the best and speedy recovery.”
Uefa have yet to make an official statement on the incident but the appalling footage of a bloodied and dazed match official beamed around the world is likely to result in a serious punishment for the Austrian side.