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Craig Foster has demanded criminal charges and life bans for the ‘small group of idiots’ responsible for a player being struck in the face with a metal bucket during an A-League match.

The Socceroos legend said his initial ‘disbelief’ at Melbourne Victory fans storming AAMI Park on Saturday and assaulting Melbourne City goalkeeper Thomas Glover and referee Alex King, has ‘turned to anger’.

Foster believes the shocking incident shows that Australian players are no longer safe from violent fans on the field, so the ‘harshest of sanctions’ are urgently needed.

‘I really resent that this small group of idiots has been able to in any way damage all of that wonderful [World Cup] journey that we’ve had,’ Foster told The Project on Sunday.

‘They don’t have the right to do that, sadly they have done.’

Craig Foster has demanded criminal charges and life bans for the 'idiots' responsible for a player being struck in the face with a metal bucket during an A-league match

Craig Foster has demanded criminal charges and life bans for the ‘idiots’ responsible for a player being struck in the face with a metal bucket during an A-league match 

Foster said it was 'unprecedented' for players in the A-league to be unsafe, so the harshest sanctions are now needed

Foster said it was ‘unprecedented’ for players in the A-league to be unsafe, so the harshest sanctions are now needed

He is now calling for criminal charges to be brought by police. 

‘To see Thomas Glover actually be assaulted on the field and to think the players aren’t safe [in Australia], that’s unprecedented.

‘We have to admit some of these things do happen abroad but they are not welcome here, they’ve never been welcome here.’ 

‘All of the game are wanting the harshest of sanctions for these idiots, as to what that is, life bans.’

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Foster, who is in Qatar for the World Cup, said he was flooded with text messages after the shocking incident.

His first reaction was ‘disbelief, being disheartened and then disgust. But 24 hours later it’s really turned to anger.’

‘The only good to come out of this is to … condemn people and see that a line is drawn and this sort of thing never happens again.’

Furious with the A-League‘s decision to send the next three grand finals to Sydneyfans were planning to stage a mass walkout on the 20th minute to vent their discontent with the decision.

The 24-year-old stopper was left bloodied and was hauled off the pitch by teammates

The 24-year-old stopper was left bloodied and was hauled off the pitch by teammates

Flares were let off as supporters freely encroached the pitch at AAMI Park in Melbourne

Flares were let off as supporters freely encroached the pitch at AAMI Park in Melbourne

Fans stormed the pitch on the 21st minute of the Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory game

Fans stormed the pitch on the 21st minute of the Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory game

However, tempers boiled over and by the 21st minute, supporters encroached the pitch and City goalkeeper Glover was attacked, with a bin smashed into his face.

He required stitches for the resulting laceration

Football Australia has promised to investigate and hand down ‘strong sanctions’ after Glover and King, the match referee were injured.

A Network 10 cameraman was earlier injured when he was hit by a flare.

The violent scenes made worldwide news and Melbourne Victory issued a late-night apology to those affected.

FA, who manage judiciary matters, has promised heavy penalties.

‘Such behaviour has no place in Australian Football, with a full Football Australia investigation to commence immediately, where strong sanctions will be handed down,’ their statement said.

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Glover was left with a cut head, requiring stitches, and a suspected concussion while King had a gash on his eyebrow.

Both sets of fans had planned to walk out at the 20-minute mark as part of a protest towards the Australian Professional Leagues’ decision to sell the next three grand finals to Sydney.

They had earlier chanted ‘f*** the APL’ while unfurling banners pre-game and during the match, and throwing flares onto the playing arena.

Several fans climb on the goalframe while the players were waiting in the tunnel

Several fans climb on the goalframe while the players were waiting in the tunnel

Glover angered fans by throwing the flare into the crowd moments before the chaos

Glover angered fans by throwing the flare into the crowd moments before the chaos

But the situation escalated when a flare from the Victory active area hit the cameraman, then exploded when Glover picked up another flare off the ground and threw it back into the stands.

Fans then rushed the pitch and Glover and King were both struck by the metal bucket, which is filled with sand and used to dispose of flares.

Players from both teams were rushed down the tunnel, while fans were swinging from the goal at the Victory end of the ground.

The game was suspended for close to 45 minutes before officials made the decision to abandon the fixture.

Melbourne Victory fans hold up a sign reading 'fight like your fans' before the chaos

Melbourne Victory fans hold up a sign reading ‘fight like your fans’ before the chaos

A security guard removes a flare as officials sought to calm things down in Melbourne

A security guard removes a flare as officials sought to calm things down in Melbourne

An FA spokesperson confirmed King, who had put himself between Glover and the fans, was more rattled than hurt.

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The referee match-day coach was pushed into the fence and security later escorted all officials to their cars.

Victoria Police is investigating the incidents and was ‘disappointed’ with the actions of the 150-200 supporters who invaded the pitch.

In condemning its fans’ actions, a ‘devastated’ Victory confirmed it would undertake a full investigation alongside AAMI Park and Victoria Police.

Multiple footballers and Australian football figures condemned the scenes, especially in the wake of the Socceroos’ golden World Cup run in Qatar.

‘Our game is in tatters. An absolute disgrace what happened tonight,’ Socceroos and Central Coast goalkeeper Danny Vukovic said on Twitter.

‘Cannot believe we are here after such an amazing WC and so much potential to see our game grow.

‘Irreparable damage done. Darkest day for football in Australia.’

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