Merseyside police are to hold discussions with Liverpool and Everton regarding alleged incidents during Sunday’s local derby match at Anfield.
The investigation revolve around claims that Phil Neville, the Everton captain, was spat at and punched by Liverpool supporters, while Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was subjected to abusive chants about his daughter.
Dave Lewis, Merseyside police’s football liaison officer, will lead the talks. “Police will be speaking to the clubs involved today,” confirmed a spokesman for the force.
The inquiry comes after Everton expressed disappointment at Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez’s post-match remarks about the abuse aimed at Gerrard.
“We felt it necessary to try to involve the safety officers and police because we cannot have a situation where supporters are having physical contact with professional footballers during the game,” said Everton’s spokesman Ian Ross. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again at the Merseyside derby or any other game.
“Whilst we would never condone the singling out of individual players for vitriolic insults, it is a shame that Mr Benítez chose to ignore the actions of his own club’s supporters.
“Not only was Joleon Lescott subjected to an afternoon-long barrage of quite disgusting and quite audible abuse, Phil Neville was seemingly spat at several times and was also punched in the back by a supporter as he took a throw-in.
“We have asked Merseyside police and our safety officer to look into the matter. In calling for Everton supporters to respect his players, Mr Benítez should, perhaps, remember his comments of 12 months ago when he sought to belittle one of world sport’s oldest and most respected institutions by describing us as a ‘small club’. Respect is a two-way street.”