Police Probe ''Reckless'' Fan Behaviour At Cup Final

A pitch invasion and disorder between fans marred a historic Scottish Cup win for Hibernian.

An investigation is under way to establish how hundreds of supporters were able to flood the turf at Hampden Park after the final whistle.

Defeated Rangers said players and staff were assaulted by Hibs fans celebrating their 3-2 victory, ending the Edinburgh side's 114-year wait to lift the trophy.

Mounted police officers were called in to restore order after what the Scottish Football Association described as ``contemptible behaviour'' from some fans.

Police Scotland said it was working to identify those involved in disorder and violence at the match.

Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said: ''We understand that feelings run high at these events and fans want to celebrate their team's win, however the reckless behaviour of fans entering the pitch is totally unacceptable and inexcusable. This created a significant safety issue.

''This action led to an outbreak of disorder between rival fans on the pitch. A dedicated investigation team is being set up to identify those who have carried out these acts of disorder and violence.''

After the final whistle supporters streamed onto the pitch and fighting broke out between rival fans.

Rangers players appeared to be goaded by Hibs supporters as they tried to leave the pitch and the side did not return to collect their runners-up medals, instead receiving them in the changing room.

Some of the national stadium's turf was ripped up and goal posts were broken by people climbing on them.

Rangers said it was shocked by the ''disgraceful'' behaviour of Hibs fans at full time and commended their own supporters for the restraint they showed ''under severe provocation''.

A club statement said: ''Rangers players and staff were assaulted by these fans who invaded the pitch and in the interests of their safety could not return to the pitch for the medal presentation.

''There can be no place for the violent behaviour witnessed at the end of the final and Rangers fully expect the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland to launch an investigation to find out where security measures failed.''

Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, said that what should have been a historic Scottish Cup final would now be remembered for the wrong reasons.

He said: ''Police Scotland and the stadium management initiated a crisis liaison group as soon as the disorder began and we thank them for containing the situation as quickly as possible.

''The Scottish FA, along with Police Scotland and the stadium management, have initiated a full investigation into the scenes that unfolded to understand how such a volume of supporters were able to enter the field.''

Speaking after the match, Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs said he did not condone the behaviour of fans.

He said: ''It is not going to take away the satisfaction of what we have achieved but I think on behalf of the club, I can understand the wait, but I don't condone it.

''Whatever happens we will have to take it on the chin and rightly so.

''It is unfortunate but from my point of view, we have to protect the image of the football club, because it was over-exuberance, that's all, and it is relief.''

Mr Regan said provisions including 1,000 police and stewards had been put in place for the category C, or increased risk match and it was difficult to see immediately what could have been done to avert the disorder.

Hibs chairman and SFA President Rod Petrie said: ''What happened was a team won the cup and the over-exuberance of a number of supporters took them on to the pitch, which is unacceptable, and I am sorry it happened.''

On Rangers' claims of assault, he said: ''I am not aware of a complaint but if something has happened to a player or member of staff, that is a very serious matter and we will co-operate fully.

''I am very sorry that the Rangers players felt they were unable to come back out and receive their medals.

''I fully expect there will be a detailed examination of what has happened to learn the lessons and we are ready to contribute to that.''

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