Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa delivers philosophical view after Birmingham City pitch invader jailed following Jack Grealish incident

Marcelo Bielsa has called for perspective amid mounting concern over on-field attacks on players, saying the problem is “not necessarily linked to football”.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:44 pm
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:58 pm
A Birmingham City fan attacks Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish at St Andrews.

The game in the UK is facing a period of harsh introspection following three incidents of supporters confronting players during games over the course of the weekend.

Friday night saw a clash between a Hibernian fan and Rangers full-back James Tavernier at Easter Road and yesterday’s Birmingham derby was marred by a Birmingham City supporter running from the stands at St Andrews and punching Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish in the back of the head.

The fan arrested at St Andrews, Paul Mitchell, has been jailed for 14 weeks and handed a 10-year ban from attending football matches following the incident.

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Arsenal’s win over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium also saw a supporter confront Chris Smalling after Arsenal’s second goal.

Leeds United head coach Bielsa played down the impact of football on each incident, saying they were as likely to indicate a lack of “satisfaction in your personal life.”

“You find violent people everywhere in every country in all activities,” Bielsa said. “You have more or less violent acts depending on how satisfied or unsatisfied people are. It also depends on how important (sport) is to them.

“A person who does the thing we saw yesterday (at St Andrews) expresses a series of frustrations which aren't necessarily linked to football. The more satisfaction you have in your personal life, the less you need to do this kind of act.

“If we have just one case like that a year it’s an excellent proportion. We wish we had none but the fact we only have one is a good indicator.”