FA urges fans to help identify coin-throwing culprits

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The Football Association's chief executive, Brian Barwick, said yesterday that weekend incidents of coin throwing are "absolutely unacceptable" and has urged supporters to help catch the culprits.

The first round of the FA Cup was marred by controversy at the non-League clubs, Newport and Barrow, on Saturday, when missiles were thrown from crowds. The fourth official, Alan Sheffield, needed medical treatment for a head wound when he was struck by a coin in County's match with Swansea and the Football Association of Wales are to investigate.

The Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Steve Phillips was also targeted during the match at Barrow. A coin thrown at him missed but Cumbria Police have appealed for witnesses to help to identify the fan.

There have been similar incidents at recent Premiership matches. Fulham's Claus Jensen was hit by a coin against Everton and Arsenal's Robin van Persie was struck during the game at West Ham. Barwick has advocated strong punishments for the guilty parties if they are identified.

"While it's important to remember that the overwhelming majority of this weekend's games showed the positive nature of the Cup, there were unfortunately a couple of examples of missile-throwing which have marred a number of games recently," he said. "It is absolutely unacceptable for players' or match officials' safety to be threatened during a match. We are urging clubs to do everything they can in conjunction with the police to identify the culprits. We want those people banned from attending matches. This is a recent trend which has to stop now."