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Fan who invaded Aviva pitch during Lithuania friendly given indefinite stadium ban

A supporter ran onto the pitch and tried to get a photograph with Caoimhín Kelleher during last week’s game with Lithuania.

A view of the Aviva Stadium.
A view of the Aviva Stadium.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

A FAN WHO ran onto the pitch and attempted to get a selfie with Caoimhín Kelleher during Ireland’s recent friendly with Lithuania has been banned indefinitely from the Aviva Stadium. 

The fan, wearing an Irish rugby top, leaped onto the pitch during the second half of the friendly international, initially waving a flag which he soon dropped as he ran to goalkeeper Kelleher at the other end of the pitch. He slipped several times and posed for a photograph with a thoroughly nonplussed Kelleher before being led away by stewards.

In a statement this afternoon, the FAI said the fan in question has been banned indefinitely from the Aviva Stadium. 

“The Football Association of Ireland has thanked the fans who supported Stephen Kenny’s team at the Aviva Stadium so positively in the recent international friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania”, read the statement. 

“The Association has also sent a firm message that pitch encroachments or any breach of Ground Regulations by individuals will not be tolerated and that the FAI will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety, welfare and enjoyment of all in attendance, including players and staff.

“This may include issuing an indefinite ban on attending matches involving the Irish football team at the Aviva Stadium to any person entering the pitch during a game. The individual who entered the field of play during the game against Lithuania will receive such an indefinite ban with immediate effect.” 

The FAI also confirmed they are liaising with Gardaí in relation to the pitch invader.

CEO Jonathan Hill said the fan is not representative of the majority of Irish fans, while also requesting that parents who allow their children get onto the pitch after the full-time whistle “stop this at source.”

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The FAI last November waived a fine for an 11-year-old girl who ran onto the pitch at the end of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier with Portugal to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s jersey, while also urging supporters to obey the “very sensible rule” barring on-pitch encroachment. 

“We cannot and will not allow this type of irresponsible behaviour to go unpunished and this is a clear message to anyone who considers entering the field of play during a match”, said Hill. “For one of our players to be approached by an individual on the pitch during play is completely unacceptable. I can confirm that the individual involved will be banned indefinitely from all Irish football games at the Aviva Stadium. He is clearly not representative of the majority.

“We are also asking all parents of younger children who allow their kids to attempt to get onto the pitch at the end of a game to also remember their responsibilities as parents and to stop this at source. Whilst no-one wants to dampen the general positive enthusiasm for the team at the moment, again people just have to accept that this is not the right thing to encourage our young fans to do, either at the Aviva or across our LOI stadia. Thank you to everyone for giving this due consideration.

“We have too many well-behaved and supportive fans to allow their experience and that of the players to be affected by the mindless few and this needs to stop now. Thank you to all of those fans who supported the team so brilliantly and so positively over the two games – it is hugely appreciated by Stephen [Kenny] and the team.”

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Gavin Cooney

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