ICC World Cup final pitch invader remanded to day's police custody
Wen Johnson (24) had run on to the pitch at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium just before the drinks break in the final at around 3.00 pm
An Australian arrested for invading the pitch during Sunday's World Cup cricket final between India and Australia wearing a pro-Palestine T-shirt was on Monday remanded to a day's police custody by a Gandhinagar court, an official said.
Wen Johnson (24) had run on to the pitch at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium just before the drinks break in the final at around 3.00 pm, but was immediately apprehended by security personnel as he approached batter Virat Kohli.
He was then arrested by Chandkheda police on charges of criminal trespass and causing hurt to deter public servants from doing their duty. The city police commissioner transferred the case from Chandkheda police to the crime branch, which presented Johnson in a court in Gandhinagar to seek his remand for further probe.
Advocate VS Vaghela, appearing for Johnson, told reporters his client was remanded to police custody until 5.00 pm on Tuesday, though the crime branch had sought 10-day custody on various grounds.
As per the FIR, Johnson, who entered the stadium as a spectator, first jumped the railing and then ran toward the pitch after pushing aside on-duty policemen in his desperate attempt to hug Kohli. Asked why he did what he did, Johnson told the police he was a big fan of Kohli, the FIR said, adding that as many as 15 policemen were guarding 'Point number R-88' of the stadium from where he jumped the fence.
Johnson wore a face mask bearing the design of the Palestine flag and a T-shirt with 'Stop bombing Palestine' and 'Save Palestine' written on the front and back.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) doesn't allow any political sloganeering during events organised by the global governing body of cricket.
A preliminary probe has revealed Johnson to be "a habitual offender" who has been booked in his own country for invading sports fields in the past, police inspector Viraj Jadeja said on Sunday. "Johnson told us he is a fan of Virat Kohli and wanted to meet him during the match. He wore the pro-Palestine T-shirt just for the sake of it. Otherwise, his main aim was to meet Kohli," the officer said.
In a few videos and photos he has shared on his Instagram handle 'pyjamamann', Johnson can be seen invading fields during football games and being taken away by security personnel. According to a crime branch release issued on Monday, Johnson had invaded the field during the FIFA Women's World Cup football match this year wearing a 'Free Ukraine' T-shirt. Similarly, he went into the field during a 'State of Origin III' rugby match in Brisbane, Australia in 2020.
"Johnson is in the habit of associating himself with any current international issue and invading fields just to get publicity to become famous as a TikToker," the release said. "A probe has revealed that his father is of Chinese origin while his mother is from The Philippines. He lives in Sydney and works with a solar panel firm."
It was revealed that Johnson had put on the blue jersey of the Indian team over the T-shirt that bore the pro-Palestine slogans. He then removed the jersey before running toward Kohli.