An Australian A-League clash between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City was abandoned on Saturday after "shocking" violent scenes when fans invaded the pitch and attacked a goalkeeper.
The match was called off in the first half after a fan protest against a decision by league bosses to award the grand finals series to Sydney for the next three years turned ugly.
Supporters of both sides were planning to walk out on the 20-minute mark, but Victory fans turned on City goalkeeper Tom Glover after he appeared to throw a flare back towards them.
Scores of them invaded the pitch and one fan threw a metal bucket with a white substance at Glover, who was taken off the field dazed and bleeding. Team officials said he had sustained a possible concussion.
"Tom Glover is receiving medical treatment in the dressing room and likely has a concussion," City tweeted, with pictures showing a gash on his face.
Play was halted and both sides left the field with the game abandoned.
“Following shocking scenes during the first half of the A-League men’s match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City ... where fans from the Melbourne Victory FC end entered the field of play, Football Australia match officials have abandoned the match ... in order to protect the integrity of the match,” a Football Australia statement said.
“Such behaviour has no place in Australian football, with a full Football Australia investigation to commence immediately," with “strong sanctions to be handed down.”
There had been a tense atmosphere to start the match with both sets of fans singing derogatory chants immediately after the preceding A-League Women’s game finished. Victory and City fans also unfurled banners, referring to their displeasure with the APL and its decision.
Both sets of fans had been throwing flares on the field but the situation escalated when a flare appeared to hit a television cameraman. 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, which is used to dispose of flares. Glover started bleeding from a head wound and was taken from the field, along with players from both teams.
Former Australia goalkeeper Danny Vukovic said on Twitter: “Our game is in tatters ... an absolute disgrace what happened tonight. Irreparable damage done. Darkest day for football in Australia."