The Rise of Coin Throwing Incidents in Football


The Law of... being safe on the pitch

In the run up to Brain Injury Week, which takes place on 8th – 14th May 2017, specialist lawyer Jonathan Grundy, in Simpson Millar LLP’s Serious Injury team, is attempting to highlight the dangers players and spectators are being exposed to by incidence of coins and other missile objects being hurled onto a pitch during a football match.

With several high-profile cup games and big-name derbies still to be contested before the end of the season, Jonathan argues that's it’s important that we remain vigilant against this behaviour to ensure that players and fans avoid a serious injury.

Recent Incidents Of Coin Throwing

Over recent years there have been numerous reports of what can only be described as violent assaults on players when they have been deliberately been targeted with coins by disgruntled fans. They have often arisen in particularly heated matches, such as derbies and cup ties.

  • David Beckham had coins thrown at him in a Manchester Derby in 2000
  • West Brom's Chris Brunt was struck by a 50p coin in their FA cup tie against Reading in February 2016
  • Coins were thrown at Manchester City players at an FA cup tie against Chelsea in February 2016
  • John Terry and Frank Lampard were pelted with coins and bottles in a match against West Ham in March 2013
  • Rio Ferdinand was injured by a 2p coin thrown at him in a Manchester Derby in December 2012

The FA and Football Clubs condone such activity and there have been a number of successful prosecutions against offenders who have been caught. Football clubs are being forced to ensure their CCTV is set up to capture such activity and many stewards are now fitted with mobile CCTV cameras. Short of stopping people taking money into a match, which is completely impractical, there is a reliance on all spectators to be alert to these violent acts and report any such behaviour immediately.

Being Injured By Thrown Objects

In recent years, the urban myth that a coin thrown from a skyscraper could kill you has been discredited by research scientists, but they can still cause injury. It is only a matter of time before somebody is seriously injured by one of these coins.

The Football Offenders Act 1991 criminalises the act of throwing objects on the pitch or in to the crowds. As such, for those who have been injured by an object being thrown at a match compensation could be sought through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

It is worth noting that in some instances a club could be liable for the damage done by an object being thrown, however this will likely only be applicable where there has been repeat incidents and the club hasn't taken action, or if the club do not employ enough stewards and staff to ensure that players and spectators are kept safe.

Brain Injury Symptoms

Some of the reported incidents have shown obvious visible signs of injury and bleeding but expert lawyer Jonathan, comments that what is not so obvious is the psychological effects and injury to the brain such a projectile attack could cause. Injury to the grey matter in our heads is less apparent, but a person who has been hit by a flying object could suffer an acquired brain injury.

Those who suffer an acquired brain injury can face a range of symptoms, all of which can have a significant effect on their everyday lives. The effects of such an injury are usually categorised as follows:

Cognitive Effects

  • Short term memory loss
  • Difficulties with concentration and communication
  • Impaired judgement
  • Disorientation
  • Inability to multitask

Behavioural Changes

  • Difficulties in completing tasks
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Restlessness

Physical Symptoms

  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Double vision or blindness
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Speech impairment or problems
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Balance problems
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

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