Players and officials from a local football club were left “shocked” after a match between two youth teams ended in a mass brawl involving players and spectators.
Players and coaches from FC Whiteabbey were waiting to get on to the outdoor 3G pitch at the University of Ulster campus in Jordanstown on Tuesday evening (September 10) when a fight broke out between players of two Under 15 teams whose game had just finished.
A representative of FC Whiteabbey said that the trouble quickly escalated and that supporters of the two teams - one from north Belfast and the other from west Belfast - also got involved.
“We were waiting to get onto the pitch and when their game finished the wee lads started getting stuck into each other and then the parents were getting stuck into each other. I’ve never seen anything like it; it was an absolute disgrace,” he told the Times.
“We grabbed our stuff to go on to the pitch and it all kicked off again in the car park. Grown men and women were getting stuck into each other and the kids started at it again. I even heard one woman shouting that she was going to get someone burnt out. It really was shocking.”
The man, who didn’t want to be named, claimed that one of those watching the game was a senior official from the Irish Football Association.
“I’ve never seen the like of it. Is it any wonder we (Northern Ireland) can’t even beat Luxembourg if this is what’s going on at grassroots level. It’s shameful,” he added.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that the incident had been reported to police.
“Police are aware of an incident at a football match in the Newtownabbey area on Tuesday, September 10. It is believed that there have been no complaints made to police at this stage,” she said.
A UUJ spokesman confirmed that an IFA coach reported the incident to university staff, but said that there were no reports of any damage to property or any injuries.