Maduka Okoye, the 22-year-old Super Eagles goalkeeper was hit with a water bottle after his heroics denied the home team from levelling the scores at GelreDome.
Okoye pulled a man of the match display as Sparta Rotterdam’s Eredivise league fixture against Vitesse was abandoned while his team led 1-0 on Friday, March 4, 2022.
The 22-year-old Super Eagle was in great form during the fixture at GelreDome as he made nine saves including from a penalty as the top-flight fixtured was called off by centre referee Rob Dieperink in second half additional time, due to the fan riot.
It was the visiting Sparta Rotterdam, who took the lead in the fifth minute, courtesy of Adrian Dalmau and in the 63rd minute, the home team was awarded a penalty, which Okoye saved to keep his side in the game.
It was at this juncture that a Vitesse fan sneaked into the pitch and went straight to Okoye, and hence trouble ensued. The fan was later whisked away and while Okoye retracted to his goal-line position, he was also hit by a bottle on his face.
Sparta have already condemned the incident in a statement on their official website.
“Sparta Rotterdam is disappointed with the premature end of the match between Vitesse and the Kasteelclub,” read part of the statement on their official website. “A number of incidents piled up in stoppage time, as a result of which referee Rob Dieperink stopped the match.
“After a supporter first came onto the field towards the goalkeeper of Sparta, then the goalkeeper was hit by an object from the audience and then a fireworks bomb exploded right next to the goal, during which a cameraman was also unable to continue his work, the players of both teams directed inward.
“In the first consultation, the Vitesse security organization indicated they found the situation safe enough from the side of the Vitesse supporters. Sparta indicated that we saw no problems with the Spartan fans in the guest section.
“The players, staff members, and the management of Sparta were of the opinion that safety could not be guaranteed, given the succession of incidents. As a result, the focus of our players was no longer fully focused on football and safety and that is the first priority for the entire club.”
Meanwhile, the Royal Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) has launched an official investigation into the events.
“The match between Vitesse and Sparta has been stopped at a 0-1 score tonight [March 4, 2022] due to disturbances from the [home] public. This was done after consultation of the referee with both clubs,” read part of their statement.
“The incident will now be investigated by the disciplinary committee. The investigation will focus on the question of guilt for the incident. The professional football board will then have to decide what to do with the remainder of the match.”
Okoye is among the three goalkeepers summoned by coach Augustine Eguavoen ahead of Nigeria’s 2022 WorldCup qualifying fixture against Ghana.