Watch: Ruaidhri Higgins hits out at 'heavy-handed' Riga stewards after Derry City fan dragged off pitch
RUAIDHRI Higgins has hit out at Riga FC for the 'heavy-handed' treatment of a Derry City fan who was dragged off the pitch after the Brandywell club's Europa Conference League defeat in the Latvian capital last night.
The Candy Stripes lost 2-0 in the second leg at the Skonto Stadium and at the final whistle the coaching staff and players made their way across the pitch to applaud the estimated 300 supporters who had made the long trip to the Baltics to support their team.
One Derry fan, Leo McGlinchey, jumped onto the pitch from the stands which housed the away support with his Derry flag in hand in an attempt to ask one of the players for their shirts, however, he was brought to a halt by two matchday stewards who eventually wrestled him to the ground.
The matchday security officials were left red-faced following an initial failed attempt to stop the pitch invasion, ending with the two stewards on the ground as McGlinchey broke free.
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A scuffle ensued and with the help of a third steward, the Derry fan was then dragged across to the far side of the pitch before being taken into custody. He was later released without charge after paying a heavy fine.
It was a disappointing end to the European tie and tainted what had been an incredible trip for Derry fans who had taken over the Latvian capital for two days leading up to the return match.
Higgins was full of praise for the City Faithful for breathing life into the city and 'doing Irish football proud' during the build-up to the game and criticised Riga for their handling of the situation.
"It was extremely heavy handed and there was no need for it," said the City boss who had followed the stewards to the far side of the pitch alongside a number of Derry players and staff to ensure the fan's safety.
"If they had let him go I'm sure he would've just walked off the pitch. It was disappointing to see how he was treated. Especially given how our supporters have conducted themselves here for the last couple of days. And they (Riga) would've known that our supporters have given the city a bit of life over the last couple of days and he should've been handled, in my opinion, a lot better than what he was.
"The fans have been amazing," he said. "Honestly I can't thank them enough. The noise they made even when we were 2-0 down tonight. The noise they made even when they were outside the ground when they left they've done the city and done the club and they've done Irish football proud."
Riga FC were asked for a comment on the incident but have yet to respond.