For the second time in a month, fan violence forced the abandonment of an Allsvenskan match, this time at the Swedbank Arena and the local Skane derby between Malmo and Helsingborg.
Officials abandoned the Skåne Derby May 24 between Malmö and Helsingborg after a half hour following a fan attack on Helsingborg goalkeeper Pär Hansson.
The chaotic scene unfolded 29:20 into the match. After an entertaining opening 29 minutes, Helsingborg took the lead on a goal by Rachid Bouaouzan. Seconds later, someone among a group of Malmö fans standing behind the Helsingborg goal threw a firecracker at Hansson, the HIF goalkeeper.
The explosive went off close to the player’s head. Hansson sank to one knee, holding his ear with his hand. As he knelt stunned, a fan leaped over the security wall separating spectators from the field and charged the Helsingborg net minder, hitting Hansson at least once. Police and several players then tackled the man.
Referee Stefan Johannesson immediately ordered both teams from the field and after a brief consultation with other match officials, ordered the game abandoned.
“We made a decision a few weeks back that if anything is thrown from the stands that we believe may harm others or is dangerous that we will abandon the match,” Johannesson said a press conference. “This time we also had a physical assault on a player on the field. When it comes to such an incident, there is no discussion. We end the game.”
Doctors who examined Hansson at the field said he sustained no damage to his eardrum but he did report “tinnitus-like” symptoms – a ringing or buzzing sound.
Malmö manager Roland Nilsson said the attack was almost surreal.
“I saw Hansson on the ground and heard the ‘pop’ of a firecracker,” Nilsson said. “Then a person quietly strolled onto the field to throw punches at the goalkeeper. It's a shame.”
The alleged assailant was part of a group of Malmö fans who call themselves the Bengali. Sporting shaved heads and often throwing Nazi-style straight arm salutes, the group was restive even before the match, setting fire to Helsingborg banners and lighting off flares.
“Unfortunately it is football that suffers,” Nilsson said. “Everybody was looking forward to this game and a great atmosphere and then something like this happens. It totally sucks.”
The incident was eerily similar to the violence April 25 at Södertälje Arena that forced officials to abandon the match between AIK and Syrianska. An AIK fan threw an explosive at an assistant referee, causing match officials to halt the game. The Disciplinary Committee of the Svenska Fotbollsförbundet earlier this month slammed AIK, forcing it to forfeit the match and pay a fine of 150,000 kronor ($25,000).
Malmö could face even more severe penalties as the incident at Swedbank Arena included a physical assault on a player. The defending champions, in addition to forfeiting the match and paying a fine, could play their home matches in front of an empty stadium.
Police officials in Malmö reached by telephone refused to comment on the alleged assailant or the charges he may face in the wake of the incident.
The Skåne derby has become one of the biggest rivalries in Swedish soccer as Malmö and Helsingborg have become two of the elite teams in the Allsvenskan. Last year, Malmö beat Helsingborg in their clash at Swedbank Arena, a victory that sent MFF to the league title. Malmö and Helsingborg entered the match as the top two teams in the standings, with HIF holding a three-point lead over Malmö.
by Chipp Reid
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