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There were ugly scenes outside Headingley before Pakistan

World Cup marred by ugly scenes at Headingley as rival Pakistan and Afghanistan fans come to blows while others try to force entry

  • Pakistan and Afghanistan fans clashed before their World Cup tie on Saturday
  • Social media was awash with video footage of clashes including a mass brawl 
  • There was also disturbing images of fans trying to storm the gates at Headingley
  • Pakistan won the match by chasing down Afghanistan’s target set at 228 
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The World Cup was marred by ugly scenes at Headingley on Saturday as fighting broke out between rival Pakistan and Afghanistan fans and dozens more tried to force their way into the ground.

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Social media was awash with video footage of incidents, including a mass brawl on Kirkstall Lane, a supporter inside the stadium kicking out at stewards after being restrained and, perhaps most disturbingly, a storming of the gates on St Michael’s Lane in a bid to gain entry.

Others scaled the walls behind the western terrace to do so but in acknowledging the multiple attempts made, an International Cricket Council spokesperson said those who did breach security ‘were immediately escorted out of the venue with no significant issues’ and that the mass charge had been repelled by ground staff.

There were ugly scenes outside Headingley before Pakistan's match with Afghanistan

There were ugly scenes outside Headingley before Pakistan’s match with Afghanistan

Other fans tried to force entry into the ground while there was a pitch invasion at match's end

Other fans tried to force entry into the ground while there was a pitch invasion at match's end

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Other fans tried to force entry into the ground while there was a pitch invasion at match’s end

Those found to be sitting in seats not designated to them were ejected while another melee ensued under the Carnegie pavilion, and in full view of the pitch, in the 48th over as Pakistan closed in on a 228-run total and a vital two points in their bid for a semi-final place.

Trouble started early in Leeds, before the majority of a near sell-out 17,800 crowd had made their way to the stands.

‘The International Cricket Council are aware of a small number of incidents at Headingley that have overshadowed the great cricket and wonderful support from the majority of fans.’ an ICC spokesperson said on the incident. ‘We worked with the venue security and police throughout the day to ensure any issues were dealt with as efficiently as possible. 

‘We constantly review our security plans and will continue to do so to ensure we’re providing the safest possible environment for fans to enjoy the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. We will not tolerate this type of behaviour, and will take appropriate action against any anti-social behaviour that spoils the enjoyment for the majority of fans. 

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‘The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup has been a fantastic celebration of cricket so far and it would be a shame if these isolated incidents, that are not common in our sport, overshadowed this thrilling game. We remind all spectators we exercise zero tolerance on incidents of crowd disorder and will take appropriate action.’ 

Pakistan won a thrilling contest as they chased down Afghanistan's 227 with two balls to spare

Pakistan won a thrilling contest as they chased down Afghanistan's 227 with two balls to spare

Pakistan won a thrilling contest as they chased down Afghanistan’s 227 with two balls to spare 

Fans inside the 17,500 ground created a raucous atmosphere throughout the game

Fans inside the 17,500 ground created a raucous atmosphere throughout the game

Fans inside the 17,500 ground created a raucous atmosphere throughout the game

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The majority of the Afghanistan team learnt their cricket in refugee camps on the Pakistan border but yesterday’s conduct between opposing supporters was arguably more reflective of the increasing political angst between the neighbouring countries.

Authorities remained tight-lipped on the security detail for the fixture but the police operation was not of the complex level for Pakistan’s defeat to India earlier in the tournament. 

Such behaviour is rare on the international cricket scene, where supporters habitually intermingle. However, wary of the potential for trouble, tournament organisers decided to increase the number of stewards on duty on Saturday from England’s recent loss to Sri Lanka by 60.