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Dec 10, 2012

FA chief condemns fan troubles at derby

FA chairman David Bernstein has expressed his disappointment at the trouble involving fans during Sunday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium, calling for life bans to imposed on any of those involved who are caught.

• Blog: Van Persie strikes it lucky
• Jolly: Balance of power swings in United's favour

The match, won 3-2 by Premier League leaders Manchester United, was marred by several incidents involving supporters in the crowd.

United striker Wayne Rooney was pelted with missiles as he went to take corners, while visiting defender Rio Ferdinand was struck just above an eye by a coin thrown from the stands as he celebrated Robin van Persie's goal. One fan also ran onto the pitch towards Ferdinand in the aftermath of the injury-time winner.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed that nine people have been charged in connection with trouble at the derby, which ended with United moving six points clear of their neighbours at the top of the table.

While the authorities are yet to identify and apprehend the person who left Ferdinand bleeding from the head - an incident that is now being investigated by the FA - nine other fans have been detained for a variety of reasons including a racially-aggravated public order offence and the breach of a football banning order.

On Monday morning, Bernstein condemned the actions of those involved and voiced fears about the example it set.

"I think it's disturbing that we're seeing a recurrence of these types of incidents," he told Sky Sports News. "We've had racial abuse issues, the odd pitch incursion, things being thrown at players - it's very unacceptable and has to be dealt with severely.

"It's very disappointing. So much of football is so good, great things are happening in football as a whole, but these odd incidents get the headlines - and understandably, because they are serious matters, they are unforgivable things.

"When you think of the millions watching football every week, or involved in football, to see it hijacked by these incidents is awful, so we have to deal with it in the strongest way we can."

Bernstein added that the culprits should feel the full weight of the law and be prevented from ever attending matches again.

"It's a difficult social problem," he added. "I think there's a copycat thing: something happens and other people copy it and this sort of thing can spiral. To my mind, it's for the FA, the whole game of football and the authorities to work together to deal with this most severe matter.

"I believe that, if necessary, these people need to go to court and be banned for life if they're found out."

In the corresponding fixture last season - a 1-0 home win in April that was hugely significant in City pipping United to their first league title in 44 years on goal difference - 31 arrests were made.

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