Pitch invasions & violence: England boss Gareth Southgate says issue a 'reflection' of the country

Football has a responsibility - Southgate on pitch invasions & violence

The fan disorder seen at football matches is a "reflection of where we are as a country at the moment", says England manager Gareth Southgate.

There have been a number of pitch invasions after games in England in recent weeks with incidents of supporters attacking players.

A fan was jailed after headbutting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp, while Aston Villa keeper Robin Olsen was assaulted at Manchester City.

"It is of concern," Southgate said.

"There is clearly a responsibility within football because, when it is in our environment, we have to do all we can to make sure it doesn't happen.

"But it's a wider problem and it is behaviour. It's a reflection of where we are as a country at the moment.

"It's a difficult time for people. We are going to have more difficult times because of the economy and the situation we are in, but we have to look at what we are doing in terms of parenting and how we want to be viewed as a country."

Last week, Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was also involved in an altercation with an Everton supporter during a pitch invasion following his side's Premier League defeat at Goodison Park and Swindon Town players were "physically and verbally abused" after their League Two play-off semi-final defeat at Port Vale.

The FA said it was "reviewing our regulations to help stamp this behaviour out and to ensure the safety of everyone inside a stadium".

Premier League managers on pitch invasions and fan violence

"It is not a good look," Southgate said. "We don't want to go to fences up and the environment that created.

"Football is reflective of society so it would be easy to put it on football. That is not the reality of it. Football has a responsibility and we have to do our bit."

The pitch invasions have come at the end of the first full season with fans present in stadiums since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Southgate said he had witnessed an increase in problems since the pandemic began.

Police data released to BBC Sport in January showed arrests at football matches across the top five English leagues are at their highest levels in years.

England's Nations League match against Italy on 11 June will be played behind closed doors as a punishment for the unrest at Wembley before the Euro 2020 final.

"What happened here before the Euro 2020 final, that wasn't just football supporters," Southgate added.

"That was people who were unable to behave and control themselves when consuming alcohol so there are many broader parts to it."

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