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'We are all with them' - Neves responds to pitch invader's message after Portugal clash with Uruguay

5:57 AM EST 11/29/22
Neves and pitch invader composite
Ruben Neves has shown his support for the pitch invader who waved a rainbow flag during Portugal's encounter with Uruguay in the World Cup.
  • The match was halted due to a pitch invasion
  • Had two messages printed on t-shirt
  • Neves urges leniency

WHAT HAPPENED? Mario Ferri ran across the pitch in the early minutes of the second half of the match, holding a pride flag and wearing a t-shirt that read ‘Save Ukraine’ on the front and ‘Respect Iranian Women’ on the back. He was quickly taken down by security and removed from the pitch. Portugal midfielder Neves has come out in support of the pitch invader and has urged Qatar's authorities to be lenient with him.

WHAT THEY SAID: "Of course, we are all with them and the message on his shirt for Iran as well,” Neves told reporters after the match.

“We hope nothing happens to the boy because we understand his message and I think all the world understood it as well. We know what has happened around this World Cup. It is a normal thing that can happen.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ferri is a serial pitch invader and invaded the pitch during the 2014 World Cup group stage game between Belgium and USA. The 35-year-old activist, who also happens to be a footballer, is nicknamed ‘Il Falco’, or ‘The Falcon’. He has also helped several Ukrainian refugees over the border to Poland on his own. "I do it on my own. I pay for everything and I want nothing back. I go to Lviv, look for people that need help and I drive for five, 10, or 15 hours. Lviv is like a harbour for Ukrainians who want to leave the country," he told CBS Sport.

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR NEVES? The midfielder may be rested on Friday against South Korea in Portugal's final group stage game of the World Cup, with the Selecao having already secured a last-16 berth with a 2-0 win over Uruguay.