England’s World Cup final with Spain was disrupted after an anti-Putin pitch invader wearing a ‘Stop Putler’ t-shirt was rugby tackled to the ground by stewards wearing football boots.
The much-anticipated final in Sydney was briefly halted in the 24th minute as security rushed onto the pitch at Stadium Australia to escort the anti-war protester away.
The intruder, who was also wearing a face mask, ran across the pitch with his arms high in the air as he made a political protest against Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin – who launched an illegal invasion of Ukraine back in February 2022.
The pitch invader was wearing a t-shirt which said ‘Stop Putler’ on the front as he compared the Russian despot to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. It also featured an image of Putin depicted as Hitler with a photoshopped hairline and small moustache.
On the back of the intruder’s t-shirt it said ‘Free Ukraine’ and featured the invaded country’s national flag.
The protest comes five years after Russian punk group Pussy Riot stormed the Men’s World Cup final in Moscow. Four members of the group – who are vocal critics of Putin – halted play before they were rounded up and dragged away in front of the Russian president who was watching from a box.
The ‘Putler’ term, coined by anti-fascists, rose in popularity after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
An anti-Putin pitch invader managed to disrupt play during the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday
The individual was quickly apprehended by stewards wearing football boots and removed from the pitch
On the back of the t-shirt it said ‘Free Ukraine’ and featured the invaded country’s national flag
Footage from the stands showed that the protester was in touching distance of England star Lauren Hemp before being tackled to the ground by efficient security.
There was a short delay as England waited to take a free-kick but the game got back underway soon after.
Minutes after the pitch invasion took place, the Lionesses went a goal down to Spain in a major blow to their quest for World Cup glory. Despite Mary Earps saving a second-half penalty, England were unable to find an equaliser as Spain were crowned world champions for the first time.
The BBC’s commentary team said that the pitch invader was ‘dealt with swiftly’, adding: ‘They know their rugby round this part of the world, and that was a pretty decent tackle.’
It’s understood that the stewards were wearing studded football boots to help with grip in the event of a pitch invasion – and it appeared to work. The man who intruded was wearing normal trainers.
The political protest comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed a stern retaliation to the Russian missile strike in the centre of the northern city of Chernihiv that killed seven people and wounded more than 100 others.
‘I am sure our soldiers will respond to Russia for this terrorist attack. Respond tangibly,’ Mr Zelensky said in a video address published in the early hours of Sunday at the end of a visit to Sweden, his first foreign trip since attending a Nato summit in Lithuania last month.
He named a six-year-old girl, Sofia, as among the dead in the attack and confirmed that the wounded included 15 children.
The ‘Putler’ term, coined by anti-fascists, rose in popularity after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014
The protest was against Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin – who launched an illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022
Footage from the stands showed that the protester was in touching distance of England star Lauren Hemp before being tackled to the ground by efficient security
He was seen running across the pitch with his arms wide in the air before he was taken down
The protester was swiftly escorted off the pitch by several stewards who were wearing football boots
The governor of the Chernihiv region, Vyacheslav Chaus, said on Sunday that the total number of people wounded had risen to 148.
Further east, Russian forces shelled the city of Kupiansk on Sunday morning, seriously wounding a man, according to Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov.
Mr Zelensky arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday, two days after the country said the United States had given its approval for Dutch and Danish authorities to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine’s air force.
Mr Zelensky is meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a military air base in the southern city of Eindhoven.
Meanwhile, in Russia, five people were wounded when a Ukrainian drone hit a train station in the city of Kursk, regional governor Roman Starovoit said on Sunday. Kursk is the capital of the western region of the same name, which borders Ukraine.
According to Mr Starovoit, the drone crashed into the roof of the railway station building, with a fire subsequently breaking out on the roof.
The protest comes after a Russian missile strike in the centre of the northern city of Chernihiv killed seven people and wounded more than 100 others
Ukraine says Russia deliberately targeted the theatre as it was hosting a gathering of drone manufacturers
A local activist said that the theatre meeting was a ‘closed meeting of engineers, military and volunteers on the subject of military technologies for the front’
Invitees to the meeting were only given the location a few hours before it started
Russian air defences jammed a drone flying towards Moscow early Sunday causing it to crash.
Russia’s Defence Ministry called it ‘an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack’.
Moscow’s Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports briefly suspended flights, but no victims or damage were reported.
Ukrainian authorities, which generally avoid commenting on attacks on Russian soil, did not say whether it launched the attacks.
Drone strikes on the Russian border regions are a fairly regular occurrence.
Drone attacks deeper inside Russian territory have been on the rise since a drone was destroyed over the Kremlin in early May. Successful strikes have exposed the vulnerabilities of Moscow’s air defence systems.