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“A lifelong stadium ban” – Vitesse director wants stiff punishment for Maduka Okoye’s attackers

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Many of the Vites’ supporters were angry to see the Nigerian shot-stopper pull off one save after another to maintain his side’s lead on Friday

Vitesse Arnhem FC director Pascal Van Wijk is optimistic that the fans who attacked Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Maduka Okoye during the two teams’ Eredivisie clash at the GelreDome will be identified and punished for bringing a ‘black day’ into the club’s history.

Okoye suffered a barrage of abuse during the game week 24 encounter on Friday while delivering a man-of-match performance away from home.

Before the game was abandoned in second-half stoppage time, the 22-year-old Nigerian had made an incredible nine saves, including a penalty save shortly after the hour-mark. Relegation-battling Sparta were leading 1-0 at the time, thanks to an early Adrian Dalmau strike.

But a section of the home fans was not impressed by Okoye’s heroics, with one hooligan running onto the pitch to confront the Super Eagles star. But Okoye was not intimidated as he stood up to his attacker and chased him back to the stands with his tail between his legs.

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That was not the last of the ugly incident, as the former Fortuna Dusseldorf keeper was struck by a beer container in the 92nd minute. Okoye did not suffer any serious injury, but Sparta refused to continue with the match, forcing the referee to suspend the game.

Van Wijk suggested that the hooligan was not one of the club’s fans, but the Vitesse director noted that efforts would be made to bring the offenders to book.

“I have been working here for eighteen years now and this is just a black day for the Vitesse family, the real supporters and not for two or three people who ruin it for the rest,” Van Wijk told ESPN.

“It is someone who jumps over the boarding and is just too fast. Coincidentally, I walked down and saw the police with that boy.

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“I address him, saying: ‘John, what are you doing now? Do you realize what is causing you?’

“And that boy starts talking to me in German… Then I think: he’s not a Vitesse supporter anyway. I don’t know what he’s doing here; he looked a bit blurry in his eyes. Then I think: what is this for someone? Who just ruins a game here.

“That is not appropriate on the football field at home. The ringleaders are, in any case, in the picture; we have cameras. I have every confidence that they will be caught.

“What will be the punishment? As far as I’m concerned, a lifelong stadium ban. I never have to see it here again.”

The Dutch top-flight organisers have decided that the remaining five minutes of the Vitesse-Sparta tie be concluded later.

A win against Vitesse would lift Sparta to within one point of Willem II in the last safety spot on the Eredivisie table.

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