WEST BROMWICH, England (AP) — The FA Cup fourth-round soccer match between local rivals West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton was paused on Sunday after “dangerous and inexcusable” crowd trouble.
The English Football Association quickly launched an investigation following the scenes at the Hawthorns, which led to players fearing for the safety of their families inside the stadium.
West Midlands Police confirmed two arrests were made following the second-half disorder — and one before the game — and one person was taken to hospital with head injuries.
“The disorder that occurred at the Black Country derby between West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers is completely unacceptable,” the Football Association said. “Safety and security are of the utmost importance, and the behavior of those involved is dangerous and inexcusable. We will be investigating these serious incidents alongside the clubs and the relevant authorities, and the appropriate action will be taken.”
The main disturbance occurred in the corner of the West Stand and the Birmingham Road End, a section meant for only home supporters.
Police and stewards rushed to the area but security also had to be increased on the opposite side of the ground soon after as the atmosphere became increasingly hostile. There had also been pockets of trouble elsewhere in the ground earlier in the game, which had been designated high risk with increased security and an 11:45 a.m. kickoff ordered.
A police statement read: “We have extra officers at this local derby and they responded immediately as disorder in the stands caused fans to spill onto the pitch. Two people have been arrested for public order offences.
“We worked with officials to get the game restarted as soon as possible.
“Another man was arrested before the game for possession of an offensive weapon. A man has been taken to hospital with head injuries.”
The game was stopped shortly after Matheus Cunha gave visitors Wolves a 2-0 lead in the 78th minute and both teams were taken off the field by referee Thomas Bramall.
Play was resumed following a lengthy delay and Wolves saw out a 2-0 win.
Police and security rushed to control the disturbances as there appeared to be pushing at one end of the ground.
Some of the West Brom players went into the stand to take their children to safety amid concern for family members.
“Unfortunately this happened, but fortunately no dramatic situations with the families or with any person happened because of course the lives are more important than anything," West Brom manager Carlos Corberan said. “Everything was controlled by the security people and the situation didn’t have any negative consequence for the families. But of course the players were worried because they knew that the families were there.”
The West Midlands clubs have a longstanding rivalry and this was the first time they had played each other since 2021.
Earlier, flares had been thrown from the away section when Wolves took the lead through Pedro Neto. Objects also appeared to be thrown at Wolves’ Tommy Doyle when he was taking a corner.
West Brom said it “condemns in the strongest terms the unsavory scenes” and any “individual involved in the disorder will be subject to a club ban, in addition to potential criminal investigation.”
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