‘Contact with the fans’ – Antonio Conte gives his take on fans running onto the pitch

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Antonio Conte
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Antonio Conte has admitted that he was extremely surprised to see Everton fans run onto the pitch at Goodison Park following their win over Crystal Palace.

The topic of fans running onto the pitch has been in the limelight over the past week on the back of a couple of unpleasant incidents.

Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was knocked to the ground following a pitch invasion at the City Ground after the Blades’ Championship semi-final playoff defeat to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night (ESPN).

Following Everton’s 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Thursday – a result that saw the Toffees confirm their Premier League status for next season – the home fans ran onto the pitch at Goodison Park in their thousands.

Palace boss Patrick Viera was even seen getting into a physical altercation with a fan following the pitch invasion (Guardian).

Conte admitted the scenes in Merseyside were not pleasant but insisted that putting a barrier between the fans and the players is not the answer as that will diminish the atmosphere.

When asked about fans running onto the pitch, the Italian told Football.London: “It was very strange because England is a league that is amazing, the atmosphere around the stadium because to have the contact with the fans and the people are very close to you.

“To have this situation is amazing because I know very well in other leagues they try to put the fans a long distance [away] to avoid this type of situation.

“It was very strange to see the people, the fans, to go onto the pitch. I understand it was an emotional moment, Everton fans were suffering a lot but I think the most important thing is always the respect.

“It’s important for the players, the staff, the coach to make us safe about this situation.

“It was a strange situation, I think after this we can be a good example to try to improve and don’t repeat. It is very strange in England to see this type of situation.

“Many people can say we want to make a wall [or barrier to fans]. I think this is not right because we lose the atmosphere.

“It is beautiful to play with the people so close to you, your fans or opposition fans. For this reason, I think this situation we can learn to improve to be better in the future for everybody.”

Spurs Web Opinion

I do not think it is realistic to expect stewards to stop thousands of fans from rushing onto the pitch. I think the best way to solve the problem would be to hand a temporary stadium ban to pitch invaders. While that might seem like a harsh move, I believe that once a few supporters get hit with a ban, the pitch invasions will stop.

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