Arsenal have been charged by the Football Association after a fan ran on the pitch and confronted Manchester United defender Chris Smalling during Sunday’s Premier League match at Emirates Stadium.
The spectator entered the field to join in with the Gunners players’ celebrations after Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang converted a second-half penalty, shoving Smalling as he ran past him.
Arsenal have until Friday, March 22 to respond to the charge, which relates to breaches of FA Rules E20(a) and (b).
A statement issued by the FA read: “It is alleged the club failed to ensure that its spectator[s] conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from encroaching onto the pitch during the Premier League fixture against Manchester United on Sunday.”
Police arrested a man on suspicion of common assault and pitch invasion, while Arsenal announced their intention to issue a ban.
The fan in question, Gary Cooper, gave an interview to the Daily Mail and apologised for his actions.
“I am just so ashamed and have let myself and my family down. What happened was out of character. I am still in shock and feel awful,” he said.
“I got caught up in the emotion of the game and made a foolish mistake to run on to the pitch.
“I had no intention of approaching Chris Smalling. He happened to be there as I ran to congratulate the Arsenal players.
“I am deeply ashamed of my actions and would never do anything to harm any of the players.”
The incident came at the end of a weekend where instances of supporters encroaching on to the pitch stained British football.
Rangers captain James Tavernier was confronted by a fan at Hibernian during last Friday’s 1-1 draw in the Scottish Premiership, while Jack Grealish was punched by a supporter at Birmingham City before going on to score the only goal in a 1-0 derby triumph for Aston Villa.
Paul Mitchell was subsequently jailed for 14 weeks by magistrates in Birmingham for his attack on Grealish.
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