Portsmouth fan banned from all football grounds for three years for abusing Fratton Park steward
A football fan who was caught on camera appearing to kick and punch Sunderland star Luke O'Nien was today banned from all football grounds for three years.
A court heard Portsmouth supporter David Oppitz, hurled abusive language at a female steward who was trying to escort him from the League One play off match following the incident.
The unemployed father of four, who describes himself as a 'huge fan with a strong passion for football' slung abuse at a female steward after being told he would be ejected from the ground.
The 51-year-old was caught during the 0-0 second leg draw in May, seeming to kick and punch at right back O'Nein after he fell into the stands during the televised match.
TV cameras then caught Oppitz, who attended the match at Fratton Park with two of his sons, attempting to put a leg over the advertising boards on the edge of the pitch.
Speaking after the match O'Nien, 24, tried to gloss over the incident, saying: ‘I got a few digs. The police asked if I wanted to press charges but that’s football.
‘He didn’t hurt me but I he got arrested in the end so he can have that.
‘However, I’ve seen my little cousin hit harder than that.’
Teammate Lee Cattermole got into a verbal altercation with Oppitz, before being pulled away.
Sunderland's then captain Cattermole, 31, added: ‘Luke was punched in the back – I was very disappointed and very surprised that people think they can do that when they come to watch a game.
‘Luke is a fantastic lad. He doesn’t need or deserve that.
‘It’s a great ground with a cracking support and it’s a shame sometimes one lets them down.’
The result saw Sunderland make it to the final.
Oppitz admitted one charge of using threatening or abusive words and behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress against the steward, Sharon Harris.
Dressed in a white Hugo Boss T-shirt and walking with a stick, Oppitz was told he would be banned from football grounds in the UK for the next three years.
A charge of going onto a playing area at a football match was dropped.
Giles Fletcher, prosecuting, told Portsmouth Magistrates' Court: ‘Two males were going to be escorted from the ground because of their behaviour.
‘Oppitz was was very confrontational with [the steward]. He said 'what are you looking at?'.
‘She tried to ignore him. He said “you're a vile piece of scum”. A police officer said “she's just doing her job”.
‘He was told he would be ejected from the ground for language of a vile nature.’
Mitigating, Natalie Dennington told magistrates: ‘As birthday and Christmas presents his family buys him football memorabilia or pay for tickets to a match.
‘On this occasion a ticket had been purchased as a gift.’
Married Oppitz, of Totton Walk, Havant, was also ordered to pay £150 in compensation to the steward.
Sentencing him, magistrate Stephen Downham said: ‘We are going to impose the football banning order for a period of three years.
‘You must not enter the premises of a football match in the UK.’ Former Wycombe Wanderers player O'Nien, who usually plays in midfield, joined Sunderland in July last year for an undisclosed fee, and has since scored five goals for the League One team.