It may have earned her a yellow card, but Australian striker Sam Kerr’s shoulder charge on a pitch invader cemented the Chelsea star’s place in sporting folklore. When the pitch invader got onto the pitch during Chelsea’s game against Juventus during injury time, he had a free run around unchallenged by the stewards. That’s when Kerr took a bold stride across the field and brilliantly body-checked the man who was being booed by the crowd.
While pitch invaders at football events are usually detained, the man will not face legal consequences since the law in place to prevent disruptive fan conduct at football matches in the United Kingdom does not apply to the women’s game. According to The Athletic, the man was a Chelsea player who was suspended by the club. However, due to the “worrying loophole in the law that excludes women,” no arrests have been made, according to police.
The law only applies to “designated matches,” which include the Premier League, FA Cup, and any games featuring full or associate members of the UK Football League, but not applicable to women’s matches, such as the Women’s Super League or FA Cup.
The loophole is worrying because, as a result of it, pitch invasions in women’s games are rarely prosecuted unless other aggravating elements such as assault or public obscenity are present.
The incident was followed by a lot of criticism over the absence of enforcement at the stadium, which allowed the fan to run around for so long, and this is because police don’t attend matches.
After the game, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes also expressed her worries, saying that as the women’s game grows and players become celebrities, their safety must become a priority. “We do have to think about player safety,” Hayes said. “We’ve seen in the growth of the game there is this sense of the players being more in demand. It should serve as a reminder to us all in our stadiums and with our stewards we’ve got to put player protection first.”
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