A LINESMAN was struck by a flare during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
The missile, which unleashed billowing blue smoke, appeared to have been launched from the Doug Ellis stand of Villa Park by a Spurs supporter celebrating Andros Townsend’s goal after 31 minutes.
Assistant referee Dave Bryan was hit in the back of the head and sent stumbling forwards but was able to continue without receiving treatment as play was momentarily brought to a halt.
Bryan told Sky Sports reporter Patrick Davison during the half-time interval that he was “fine and comfortable to carry on”.
West Midlands Police and stewards are believed to have watched CCTV images of the incident and escorted a spectator out of the stadium minutes later.
Police were initially reluctant to confirm whether the removal of the fan was connected to the flare throwing but have since arrested two men aged 25 and 47.
It is the second time such an incident has occured at Villa Park after a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from the effects of a smoke bomb being lit during Villa’s 2-2 draw with Wigan in May.
The Football Association have revealed they will begin an investigation into what they describe as ‘an unacceptable situation’.
A spokesman said: “The FA will investigate this matter, which is unacceptable. We will await the match officials’ report and will be speaking to the clubs.
“Such incidents highlight the dangers of pyrotechnics being used in a football stadium.”
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas added after the game: “It is not great to see. It should have been avoided completely.
“It touched the linesman and situations like this don’t have a place in football. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t happen again.”
Spurs won 2-0 thanks to a first-half strike from England winger Townsend and second-half finish from Spanish striker Roberto Soldado.