Dutch defender Jetro Willems was punched by a fan in an Eredivisie match after trouble broke out during Groningen’s derby defeat by Heerenveen.
The 28-year-old Groningen player went to an area of the pitch where tensions were running high and tried to calm down the team’s fans.
Instead, he ended up being knocked over by a fan who passed the others before taking a swing at Williams, with the shocking incident caught on TV cameras.
Relegation-threatened Groningen trailing 2–0 at the time, were on their way into the closing stages, and the match was briefly stopped as referee Serdar Guzubuyuk removed the players from the field.
They later returned to complete the match, and no further goals were scored.
The incident could see Groningen face punishment, but former PSV and Newcastle United player Willems joked after the final whistle, telling Dutch ESPN: “I come from Rotterdam-Zuid; I can take a beating, can’t I?”
He added, “I don’t want to talk too much about it. Everything blows up at some point. It’s certainly not normal, but we’ll sit down with the club and then you’ll hear more later or tomorrow.”
The match was played with an early start, starting at 1215pm local time, with both goals before half-time coming from Sydney van Hooijdonk.
Groningen striker Elvis Manu responded with horror at the attack, quoting VNL as saying: “It’s a very black day. This should never happen.”
“It’s very unfortunate. One person ruined it for everyone. I think we had the crowd behind us from the first minute. We felt supported.
“Something very bad happened like this. Everyone is very emotional, but that has no place on a football field.”
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