South East Wales

Cardiff Devils face inquiry over brawl claim

Cardiff Devils (generic)
Image caption The Devils said they would fully co-operate with police and ice hockey authorities

Police were called to a brawl involving players and a spectator at the end of a Cardiff Devils ice hockey match.

The club has banned the fan and said it will co-operate fully with an Elite League inquiry into events at Sunday's match with Coventry Blaze.

South Wales Police said they were called by a fan who complained about being assaulted by a player.

But police discovered the fan had "instigated the altercation" and he was given advice about his behaviour.

The Devils have condemned the incident, while Blaze have declined to comment.

The club said the supporter, who has been banned for the rest of season, has apologised and expressed remorse.

During the Challenge Cup match, Devils' forward Max Birbraer was sent off after reacting to an elbow in the face.

Two players also fought after the final hooter, sparking scuffles between both sides, and involving the Devils' supporter.

The incident was captured on video, which has been posted on YouTube.

South Wales Police confirmed they were called to the Cardiff Devils game by a spectator who complained about being assaulted by a player.

The force spokeswoman said further questioning by officers revealed the complainant had instigated the altercation and he was given advice about his behaviour.

Neither the player concerned nor the club wanted to take the matter further so the incident has been closed, she added.

The Devils issued a statement on their website, condemning the "alleged inappropriate actions" at the Planet Ice arena in Cardiff Bay.

"The club is working with the police, security officials and Planet Ice to investigate the incident and determine what further action will be taken," said the statement.

It said it would fully co-operate with police and ice hockey authorities to "identify the most appropriate course of action".

The statement added: "The club is fully committed to ensuring all participants and spectators continue to enjoy Cardiff Devils ice hockey games in a safe and family-friendly environment."

Cardiff Devils chief executive Paul Ragan said: "We pride ourselves on providing a very safe and family-focussed environment.

"Bad language and inappropriate behaviour, which compromises the safety of visitors, officials and players, will not be tolerated.

"While ice hockey is an extremely physical and adrenalin-packed sport, isolated incidents such as this are extremely rare and should not overshadow what is one of the most family friendly sporting experiences available."

The incident is also being investigated by the sport's governing body.

The Elite League's disciplinary committee says that may not yet be the end of the matter and it would be reviewing CCTV footage and reports from league officials and rink-side staff.

"A number of incidents occurred after the final hooter and the committee will now study these and make a ruling on all of the match penalties and incidents. They will present their findings within the next 48 hours.

"The committee would like to stress that clubs cannot appeal any match penalties handed out on the night, but the committee have the power to increase or overturn these penalties."

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