Police arrest man, investigate 4 youths, after stadium pitch incursions

A spectator (in hoodie) being taken away by security personnel after he went to the stand with Uzbekistan fans and taunted them during the Singapore v Uzbekistan World Cup qualifier.
A spectator (in hoodie) being taken away by security personnel after he went to the stand with Uzbekistan fans and taunted them during the Singapore v Uzbekistan World Cup qualifier. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The Singapore Police Force confirmed yesterday that it is investigating the pitch invasions during two recent football matches at the National Stadium.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the police said: "On Oct 10, 2019 at about 9.20pm, the police were alerted to two cases of wilful trespass along 1 Stadium Drive. Four youths, aged between 11 and 15, are assisting with police investigations.

"On Oct 15, 2019 at about 9.30pm, the police received a call for assistance along 1 Stadium Drive. A 30-year-old man was arrested for public nuisance. Police investigations are ongoing."

During the Oct 10 friendly between Brazil and Senegal, which ended 1-1, two boys ran onto the pitch to take wefies with Selecao star Neymar and other players before the start of the second half.

After the game, there was a similar pitch incursion by young fans. All were eventually apprehended by security and led away.

During Tuesday's World Cup qualifier between Singapore and Uzbekistan, a spectator entered the area between the pitch and the stands and confronted fans from the visiting team. He too was escorted away by security.

The Singapore Sports Hub on Wednesday warned that "pitch invasions or other breaches of security will be dealt with severely and trespassers will be handed over to the police".

It explained: "The stadium is set up to bring fans as close to the action (their heroes) as possible. Pitch invasions do happen across the globe as passions run high and fans look to get closer to their heroes.

"Regardless, the safety of players and fans are our No. 1 priority and security checks are in place for anyone entering the stadium."

In another similar incident this year at the National Stadium, during July's International Champions Cup Juventus-Tottenham match, a young boy wearing a Juventus jersey darted across the pitch and headed for the bench.

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri allowed the boy to sit on the bench and take a wefie with their star man Cristiano Ronaldo, before the fan was escorted out by security.

Brushing aside the incident, the Italian manager later said: "For me, when such a young fan goes onto the pitch, it's not an invasion but a joyful occasion."

The young fan was identified by British tabloid The Sun as 14-year-old Akhmadi Yerzhanov from Kazakhstan, who together with his father, was detained by Singapore police after the incident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'Police arrest man, investigate 4 youths, after stadium pitch incursions'. Print Edition | Subscribe