Football: Pepper spray at Everton-Leeds 'necessary and proportionate' - police

Leeds United fans inside the stadium before the match on Feb 12, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - British police have defended using pepper spray against Leeds United fans in Saturday's (Feb 12) Premier League match at Everton, arguing the measure was "proportionate and necessary".

Videos on social media after the 3-0 Everton win showed officers spraying fans with a substance as pockets of violence broke out at the match, with a number of Leeds supporters rubbing their eyes.

Merseyside Police said that the spray, known as PAVA, was used after some people threw bottles at officers and two were struck in the face as they tried to detain a male supporter who had headbutted a steward.

"When police were assaulted, officers deployed PAVA spray in order to bring the situation under control for the safety of fans near to the disturbance," said a statement.

"Efforts were made immediately after to identify anyone affected by the spray and provide them with aftercare and support. The use of PAVA in this incident has been reviewed by our Professional Standards Department who are satisfied that its use was proportionate and necessary."

The statement added that a 44-year-old male had been arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and assaulting an officer.

Leeds did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the use of the spray.

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