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Merseyside police defend pepper spraying Leeds fans during Everton match

22:51 EAT 14/02/2022
Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds
Travelling Whites supporters were sprayed during the second half of the Toffees' 3-0 win at Goodison Park

Merseyside Police have defended the use of pepper spray against Leeds United supporters amid Everton's Premier League victory on Sunday, after authorities were involved in an altercation with fans.

Travelling Whites supporters were sprayed during the second half of the Toffees' 3-0 win at Goodison Park, as Frank Lampard's side delivered a statement win against Marcelo Bielsa's team to draw the pair closer together in a relegation tussle.

Now, an official statement has been issued discussing the incident, with the police noting they felt justified in the use of pepper spray, or PAVA, to combat the issue.

What has been said?

"At around 4.05pm at the start of the second half, it was reported a steward had been headbutted by a man in the away section on the Lower Bullens stand," Merseyside Police confirmed in a statement.

"Officers attended and while attempting to detain the male, other members of the crowd began to throw bottles at officers and two officers were punched to the face. When police were assaulted, officers deployed PAVA spray in order to bring the situation under control for the safety of fans near to the disturbance.

"Efforts were made immediately after to identify anyone affected by the spray and provide them with aftercare and support. The use of PAVA in this incident has been reviewed by our Professional Standards Department who are satisfied that its use was proportionate and necessary."

Leeds fans issue rebuttal

While Merseyside Police have satisfied themselves in their actions, Whites supporters have proven less than impressed, with Leeds United Supporters Trust vice-chair Graham Hyde countering that the use of pepper spray was excessive.

"We do not wish to see anyone hurt, including fans, stewards and police, and would always prefer to see the handling of fans done in a diplomatic and non-inflammatory manner," he said.

"We don't challenge there was over-reaction from fans and bottles thrown. We don't want to see that or anyone's safety endangered. [But] there always seems to be a rush to blame the fans rather than looking at the whole picture."

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