Tafea and Lautoka's clashed yesterday was interrupted when Tafea supporters stormed in the pitch overruling the referee’s authority by stopping the game before the final whistle.
The incident was sparked 87 minutes in the game when an angry fan ran in and tackled FIFA referee, Michael Hester down for flagging his 2nd red card to Tafea’s Geoffrey Gete over a bad tackle.
Retired referee, Mr. Harry Atisson who has been a referee for the last 20 years, and is a member of the Oceania and FIFA referee committee said “In the laws of the game, a player is disciplined according to the nature of the offense. In Tafea’s case, a bad tackle from behind is a direct red card”.
But, it is unclear, what the intention of those who stormed the pitch later on after Michael Hester’s actions, because not only the referee who got hurt, but the Lautoka F.C. players run for their lives too and one player was badly injured.
It is obvious that the supporters who got in the pitch were Tafea F.C. die-hard fans, and either they got in because they were unhappy over the referee’s decisions or because Tafea was losing.
They took the pitch and outnumbered the securities who look helpless in controlling the situation, but with the help of some fans and football officials, they sheltered Michael Hester and his assistants from the worst could happen.
It was unfortunate for Lautoka players and official when they remain unprotected and one player got badly injured and few got punched and kicked by the angry mobs.
Moses Stevens who is the President of Pacific Island News Association and is a well-known football commentator for the last 15 years said “This is a sad day for Vanuatu football. I have never seen a scene like this during my career”.
It is also wrong to see securities that have been posted to protect the match have also got involved in the brawl.
Vanuafoot contacted a representative of the stadium management, Mr. Bong Shem with regards to security, and Bong said they were informed of the securities involvement. "It is shocking to hear about some of the securities actions. We will review their contract and this could be the end of their service here", said Mr. Shem.
Meanwhile, Michael Hester and his assistants and a Lautoka player went for medical treatment and check-up after the incident yesterday afternoon.
The referee’s and VFF report will be submitted to OFC disciplinary committee later on the week for their consideration. It is possible that OFC will levy tough disciplinary sanctions to Vanuatu over the incident.
Photo: Lautoka F.C. team escorted out by Police.