Soccer-Groningen defender Willems struck by own fan in league match

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- Groningen defender Jetro Willems shrugged off a blow to the head from one of his own team's supporters as crowd troubled marred his side's 2-0 Eredivisie loss to Heerenveen on Sunday.

Williams received the blow from the fan as he tried to quell tensions in the stands after another supporter had attempted to enter the field of play, seemingly to berate his own players.

Williams, who spent one season with Newcastle United in 2019-20, appeared unhurt and said after the game that he did not want the incident to be blown out of proportion.

"I come from Rotterdam South, I can take a beating, right?," Williams joked with reporters.

"I don't want to say too much about it. Everything gets blown up at some point, but it is certainly not normal. We will speak to the club about it and then maybe say more."

The referee took the players from the pitch with the game stopped after 85 minutes, but the teams later returned, including Williams, to complete the match.

Second-bottom Groningen remain in deep trouble, four points from the relegation playoff spot.

The Dutch FA warned of rising hooliganism back in 2021, with the 34 professional clubs in the country at the time signing a statement calling for restraint and better behaviour from fans.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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