The Football Association has branded the incident that left Rio Ferdinand bleeding at Manchester City yesterday as “unacceptable”.
Manchester United defender Ferdinand appeared to be hit by a coin as he celebrated his side’s third goal in their 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium.
The defender sustained a cut just above the eye in the incident, which is now being investigated by Greater Manchester Police and the FA.
Although Ferdinand attempted to dismiss the incident in a light-hearted manner, he accepted a line was crossed by the City fan who aimed the missile and another who had to be restrained from attacking him by goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Both are now facing life bans, in addition to police prosecutions, with City apologising to Ferdinand after the game.
And the FA have promised a renewed attempt to stamp out such behaviour.
“It is disappointing that after a great game and advert for the Premier League that we are discussing this issue,” an FA spokesperson said.
“We will work with the clubs and authorities to identify those responsible and support the strongest sanctions available, including life bans.
“We condemn any such acts and it is simply unacceptable that any player is exposed to injury in this way. To witness Rio Ferdinand leaving the field with a cut above his eye to receive treatment is appalling.
“Football in this country has made great progress over recent decades.
“However, we must maintain the safety and security inside of our stadia and to do this we need to isolate and identify any individuals guilty of offences with strong penalties to act as a deterrent to others.”
When Ferdinand, who was able to complete the match, left the pitch after the final whistle he was seen to have an object in his hand which he showed to referee Martin Atkinson before he threw it to the ground.
A message on Ferdinand’s official Twitter account posted at 4.34pm read: “what a result,3points! Sweet! Whoever threw that coin,what a shot! Can’t believe it was a copper 2p....could have at least been a £1 coin!”
He later added: “Respect to Joe Hart for protecting that idiot who ran on!! Love the banter between fans but there is a point when it goes too far...calm it!”
Alex Ferguson adopted a more serious tone when questioned about the incident afterwards.
“It was disappointing when the supporter ran on the pitch and Rio got hit in the eye by a coin,” he said.
“The game didn’t deserve that.
“The same thing happened at Chelsea which was masked really by all the other things that happened.”
City apologised to Ferdinand shortly after the match and denounced the actions of the supporter.
“We apologise to Rio,” a Manchester City spokesperson said. “We condemn the actions of the individual concerned. We are reviewing the CCTV with the police and our normal security.
“We will support the police with any investigation and hopefully identify the person as soon as possible.”
Professional Footballers’ Association boss Gordon Taylor believes the incidents show there is a case for putting netting up around areas of the pitch for the protection of players.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think you’ve got to give consideration to possibly, as has been suggested, some netting in vulnerable areas, be it behind the goals and round the corner flags.”