Fan violence forced the halt to a Malmö match for the second time this season, although this time the visiting team could pay the price in the end.
For the third time this season and second at Swedbank Arena, fan violence forced a halt to an Allsvenskan match.
Referee Martin Hansson ordered players from Malmö and Djurgården off the pitch July 30 after fans threw fireworks at a group of photographers following a Malmö goal. In addition, a group of alleged Djurgården fans began attacking Malmö fans sitting near their section in the stands. Hansson said the combination was simply too much.
“There was simply too much happening,” Hansson said. “It’s just a tragedy. It’s a decision a referee should never have to make.”
Malmö entered the match on high after beating Scottish club Glasgow Rangers in a Champions League qualifier July 28. The club had additional security in place following violence that cost Malmö three points back in May when fans threw fireworks and one man attacked a player from Helsingborg in the first Skane derby of the season.
Nothing, however, apparently prepared security personnel for the type of “percussion caps” DIF supporters allegedly brought with them to the match. About 3,000 blue-and-black-clad fans of the Stockholm club made the trip to southern Sweden for the match.
Impossible to keep everything out of the stadium “I have said many times that it is just impossible to keep small things like these percussion caps out of the stadium,” said Malmö communications director Per Welinder. “We will never be able to prevent people from bringing things like that into the stadium without a more thorough pat-down, which we simply don’t have the resources to do.”
The problems began soon after Dardan Rexhepi scored at the five-minute mark to give Djurgården the lead. Fans sitting in the area assigned to the Djurgården supporters began lighting off flares. Within five minutes, a hail of small explosives began going off near a group of photographers, one of whom went to the hospital with minor burns.
Hansson immediately ordered both teams off the field. He said he wanted to calm the crowd, at least at first. However, as fans from either club tried to point out alleged perpetrators to police moving into the stands, groups of apparent DIF supporters began attacking Malmö fans. Bildbyran photographers took several pictures of a group of Djurgården fans attacking a man for carrying a Malmö scarf. After a 20 minute delay, Hansson abandoned the match.
“It was too risky,” he said. “It’s about everyone’s safety. People that go to football matches should not be exposed to this.”
Earlier forfeit Malmö forfeited the May 24 game against Helsingborg after fans threw fireworks at a referee and one man ran on the field attacked HIF goalkeeper Pär Hansson. Since then, MFF officials have significantly beefed up security at the stadium to include pat downs of fans entering the arena. That hand search, however, is fairly basic and Welinder admitted less that thorough.
“Things like these percussion caps are simply too small to detect with the searches we can perform,” Welinder said.
The Disciplinary Committee of the Svenska Fotbollsforbundet plans to meet Aug. 15 to discuss the matter and hand out punishment.
Rexhepi, the goal scorer, was livid after the decision to abandon the match, and not just because he called his goal his best-ever strike.
“It's very worrying that there are people who want to harm Swedish football and I think it could be devastating for the development. We lose the faith and we lose our audience. Who wants to sit in the stands?” Rexhepi said. “It's hard on everyone, mostly I think of the children who still accompany their parents on the game. It is cruel that they should have to experience this.”
The Malmö striker said if clubs don’t act, the players should.
“Clubs must put a stop to this idiocy that threatens Swedish football,” he said. ”We players should strike.”
by Chipp Reid
Police cordon off a section of Swedbank Arena from which Djurgården fans hurled explosives at the field.