The pitch invader who made their way onto the field during last Wednesday’s match between Chelsea and Juventus FC will not face anything more than a suspension due to a legal loophole that excludes women.
The invader, who wandered onto the pitch while reportedly looking to take photos with players, was leveled by Chelsea star Sam Kerr, who received a yellow card for the incident. The invader has subsequently been suspended by the club.
According to The Athletic, under section 4 of the 1991 Football (Offences) Act, entering the playing area is an arrestable offense.
“It is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove),” the law states.
A person who violates the offense could also face a fine of up to 1,000 pounds.
However, the law stipulates that it applies only to “designated matches” and, according to The Athletic, Women’s Champions League and Women’s Super league games do not fall under that classification.
The full designation order states that in order to be classified as a “designated match,” the game must include at least one team that represents a club “which is a member of the English Football League, the Premier League, the Football Conference or the League of Wales, or represents a country or territory.”
Women’s games are excluded from this list completely, meaning that the invasion of the pitch is not an arrestable offense unless something like assault or public indecency had occurred.
Additionally, women’s games are not generally attended by the police unless certain factors necessitate them. Things like attendance numbers, pre-planned disorder, crowd dynamic and more could lead to a future police presence at games.
Concerns have been raised in the wake of the Sam Kerr incident about players’ safety during matches, including from Chelsea manager Emma Hayes.
“We do have to think about player safety,” she said. “We’ve seen in the growth of the game there is this sense of the players being more in demand. It should serve as a reminder to us all in our stadiums and with our stewards we’ve got to put player protection first.”