Violence erupted at Mile End’s parks five-a-side football tournament organised by its Leisure Centre last Saturday which ended with a tense final match brawl between teams from Forest Gate and Whitechapel.
The tournament has been set up for youths and other football fanatics willing show their skills and love for the game.
30 different teams from all over London took part in the tournament that was held in the Tower Hamlets borough, battling it out to reach the finals. Over a hundred players were engaged in the competition all from diverse backgrounds and communities.
A handful group of dedicated volunteers from the Mile End leisure Centre helped organise the five-a-side tournament, which was enjoyed by many and attracted spectators to cheer the teams on at Mile End Park’s Football Astroturf.
As the tournament neared its conclusion, the referee sent off a player from each side that started a fight in the final match between the rival teams.
But they both refused to leave the field and, within seconds, the match descended into a chaos and all hell had broken loose with a 16 man brawl inside the five-a-side Astroturf.
Instead of hanging around to quell the trouble, the referee and his volunteers ran off for the leisure centre nearby for safety.
A volunteer who wanted to remain anonymous said;’’ We are trying to set up a tournament for people who love the game but unfortunately within every group of players there are trouble makers those who won’t take sorry as an apology after a rough 50/50 tackle. I mean it is football we are playing and if you don’t want to be tackled and you have got a bad temper then don’t come and play in the first place.’’
The brawl lasted for five minutes on the turf as other teams rushed into the field to keep away both rivals. But shortly after when the players were all leaving together that’s when the fighting started all over again.
Nish who was the referee on the day added; ’’This isn’t the first time a brawl like this erupted, that’s why we ran off to the leisure centre and let them fight it out without any of us volunteers getting involved in the mess. It is meant to be a friendly tournament but there are some with a very bad temper that want to show how tough they are by fighting which is never the answer.’’
Both teams however have been disqualified which meant that they would never be allowed to participate in future tournaments.
As a result the cup went to the third placed team from Stepney Green and the fourth seeded as runners up from Mile End.