Maltese police officers stood and watched as a large crowd of Floriana FC supporters gathered to celebrate their league victory and break COVID-19 restrictions.
Photos sent to Lovin Malta show a number of police officers standing and staring a hundred metres away from where a large number of people started to gather en masse, despite the six-person limit in place.
The photos were taken well before the number grew, yet the officers seemingly did nothing to prevent the rapid expansion.
Another photo sent to this newsroom shows a Floriana supporter taking a selfie among the crowd with a helpless police officer looking on.
Malta’s police are yet to respond to questions concerning the photos. They have not replied to questions as to why no preventative action was taken and how many fines were distributed. As per a legal notice, people who gather in public in groups of more than six should be fined €100 each.
The police have been noticeably silent since the event.
While they have shown an iron fist to most people breaking the rules, they seemed reluctant to take strong action and immediately disperse the Floriana crowd. The celebrations were only stopped hours after they had initially begun.
A police statement has not been issued and yesterday’s daily COVID-19 bulletin was unpublished. It seems the supporters’ chants have silenced the authorities.
Floriana fans descended on the Granaries after the Malta Football Association declared them the winners of the Premier League, which was scrapped because of the pandemic. It is their 26th title in their history. They last won the league in the 1992/1993 season.
Video footage of hundreds of fans gathering circulated social media like wildfire, spurring reactions of shock, anger and disappointment at those who so blatantly ignored COVID-19 protocols in favour of a football win.
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci has called on Floriana FC fans to get tested for COVID-19 if they were exhibiting symptoms. She also opened up about the moment her team of health experts found out about what was happening.
“We stopped what we were doing. We’ve worked so hard… we couldn’t believe it and we were worried. We weren’t angry, we were worried. The minute we heard about it, we alerted the police,” Gauci told the Times of Malta.