The head of the players' union has called for those responsible to be harshly dealt with, in the wake of an incident during the Manchester derby that saw Rio Ferdinand injured.The chairman of the PFA, Clarke Carlisle, believes harsh punishments should be handed to Manchester City fans found guilty of throwing coins in Sunday's Manchester derby.
Rio Ferdinand was struck by a coin, which cut him above the eye, before a fan ran onto the pitch an attempted to confront the 34-year-old.
“Do we have to wait until an England captain is blinded by a coin to grasp the nettle and stamp down on supporters who behave in an unacceptable way?” Carlisle queried The Daily Mirror. “You can’t pretend there is no problem when one of England’s best players [Wayne Rooney] goes to take a corner and you can see missiles flying through the air around him. Until Rio Ferdinand was hit by that object, it’s only by luck that players have not been injured before because the missiles were missing their targets.
“On one hand, you do not want to over-dramatize the problem and resort to scaremongering, but on the other hand you can’t sweep what happened at the Manchester derby under the carpet because it was terrible. The truth about hooligan behavior inside football grounds is not that it’s on the increase, nor that we are creeping back towards the bad old days, because the problem never went away in the first place. But the important thing is how we respond and deal with it."
Carlisle went on to say that England should be more be more proactive rather than being reactive in dealing with the issues surrounding the game.
“We don’t want football to reach the stage where something terrible happens before we address the issue, like tearing down the fences which penned in fans until 96 innocent people lost their lives at Hillsborough," he said. “Sadly, it has taken someone as high-profile as Rio to suffer for the issue to make the front pages. Now is the time to clamp down, now is the time to stamp it out.
“We need to lower our tolerance levels, we can’t afford to wait until there’s a tragedy."