Jetro Willems was attacked by his own Groningen supporter during the 2-0 defeat against Heerenveen on Sunday.
With less than 10 minutes of the game remaining, referee Serdar Gozubuyuk stopped play after a fan ran onto the pitch and clashed with the stewards, as the Groningen players tried to calm their own supporters’ unrest in a corner of the stadium to soften.
Willems was one of the players who jumped over the billboards to calm the fans, but the Netherlands international was punched by a supporter who approached the player.
The Groningen fan was quickly removed from his situation by his fellow supporters, while Willems was able to finish the game.
Willems, who made 22 appearances for the Dutch national team, spent a season on loan at Newcastle United in 2019, although his campaign was cut short in January due to a knee injury requiring surgery.
Groningen is now in the relegation zone of the Eredivisie and has lost the last three games.
“We are grateful that many people support us, but there are numbers, with all due respect … that is not possible,” said Groningen captain Michael Verrips.
Not against other fans, but also not against players. We must disapprove of that.’
“This is a sad day,” said ESPN expert Kees Kwakman.
“It may be fifteen supporters, but they also ruin it for the rest. We have to reject this again, for the umpteenth time.
“With all those stories about supporters… this reinforces the narrative towards measures that we all don’t want. And then a large group is punished.’
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