Pitch invader UEFA Super CupGetty Images

Football pitch invasions: Punishments & are people banned from stadiums?

Following an injury to Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian caused by a pitch invader following the UEFA Super Cup final, there has been a great deal of publicity on the subject. 

With spectators having also entered the pitch during the Champions League final and the Community Shield match between the Reds and Manchester City at Wembley, it is a topic that has particularly piqued Jurgen Klopp.

“You see a man with his d*** swinging around. Who wants to see that?!” he said during a press conference in the aftermath of the incident.

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“What can I say? There is no doubt about how much we love our fans, but if they could all stop doing that because that’s the worst example I have heard about.

“It’s not funny. I like that we don't have fences in stadiums but that means a lot of responsibility for supporters as well. 

“If one supporter cannot hesitate or stop himself, then supporters around him should do it. It’s not funny. It’s crazy. How can something like this happen?”

Is invading a football pitch against the law?

In the United Kingdom, it very definitely is.

The Football (Offences) Act 1991 states: “It is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove).”

What is the punishment for invading the pitch?

In England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has advised that persons in breach of the above law be charged with more general legislation if possible. This allows the court more flexibility in terms of its sentencing power, potentially even allowing them to put unruly fans into prison.

Football-related offences, such as invading the pitch, being drunk at a designated sporting event and having a flare or firework while trying to enter a ground, are non-imprisonable.

Meanwhile, courts will very likely give convicted offenders a football banning order (FBO).

On the Sentencing Council’s website, it details: “The court must make a football banning order where an offender has been convicted of a relevant offence and it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder (Football Spectators Act 1989, s.14A).

“The order requires the offender to report to a police station within five days, may require the offender to surrender his or her passport, and may impose requirements on the offender in relation to any regulated football matches.”

Such offences do not need to have taken place at the ground, with fans who are drunk and disorderly on route to the stadium, for example, also being subject to FBOs.

FBOs, which can even be granted in the case of an acquittal after trial, can last for between two and 10 years, although the length of the ban will reflect the seriousness of the event.

What does having a Football Banning Order (FBO) mean?

Offenders are banned from every football ground in the UK and are not eligible to go to the national team’s matches – even those played abroad. Indeed, it may be that fans are forced to hand their passports into the police station for such occasions or told to report to a police station on the day of the game.

Furthermore, they can be banned from using public transport on matchdays and prevented from going to certain places like town and city centres, railways stations and pubs and bars during certain hours.

Specific conditions can be imposed on a case-by-case basis.

Breaching the terms of an FBO means that offenders can be fined and sentenced to prison for up to six months.