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3 charged after violent pitch invasion in Australian soccer

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Police charged three men Monday following a violent pitch invasion that left a goalkeeper and a referee injured and forced an Australian top-flight soccer match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory to be abandoned on the weekend.

Video on social media showed a man throwing a metal bucket of sand at Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover during the melee at AAMI Stadium on Saturday night.

Glover was taken off the field dazed and bleeding and later received stitches to a facial laceration. He was back at practice with the club on Monday.

About 150 people rushed the pitch around the 20-minute mark, when City led 1-0.

Victoria state police reviewed security video before asking for public help to identify eight people wanted for questioning. Three men, aged 23, 19 and 18, subsequently reported to local police stations and were charged with a range of offenses.

All three were given bail and will appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in February.

A 23-year-old man accused of throwing the bucket of sand at Glover was charged with violent disorder, discharging a missile, unlawful assault, public nuisance and riotous behavior.

The two teenage men were charged with offenses including assaulting the goalkeeper and the referee.

Both sets of fans had been throwing flares onto the field but the situation escalated when a flare appeared to hit a television camera operator. Glover later picked up another flare off the ground and threw it back into the stands.

Fans then rushed the pitch and Glover was struck by the metal bucket containing sand, which is used to extinguish flares.

Football Australia has vowed to impose heavy punishments against those found responsible and has ordered Melbourne Victory to show cause by Wednesday why it should not face severe sanctions for the conduct of its supporters.

Victory could face a financial penalty, points deduction or possibly have fans locked out of stadiums.

The incident has blighted an otherwise upbeat time for soccer in the country, coming two weeks after Australia’s strong World Cup showing in reaching the round of 16 before a narrow 2-1 loss to eventual champion Argentina.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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