The Birmingham vs. Aston Villa match in England in the Championship on Sunday provided a shocking, disgusting moment that won't soon be forgotten and raised concerns about player safety.
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish was attacked from behind by a fan who ran onto the pitch and sucker punched the talented midfielder in the first half. The man, who used his right arm to hit Grealish in the face, was quickly apprehended by security but not before some Villa players got their hands on him. It's important to understand that Villa-Birmingham is a derby, a rivalry game that means more than any other the teams will play, and emotions are always high. And as a result, this took sadly took place. Take a look at the wild video:
The English Football League quickly released the following statement on the situation:
"The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St. Andrews on Sunday afternoon. It's a situation no player should ever be faced with. In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behavior."
The fan, identified as 27-year-old Paul Mitchell, will serve 14 weeks in jail after pleading guilty to charges of assault and entering the field of play illegally, according to the Guardian. Mitchell reportedly also received a 10-year ban from football and was banned for life by Birmingham City.
On the pitch, Grealish got his revenge, but not with violence. He scored the lone goal to lift his team to victory with a solid left-footed strike:
As for the scary moment, it raises questions about player safety and what other measures might need to be taken to protect them, but thankfully it wasn't worse.