Hibernian have called on Hearts to investigate after claiming their player Marijan Cabraja was confronted by home supporters during Saturday’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.
The ten-man hosts held on for a 1-1 draw in a tense final-day encounter to stop Hibernian leapfrogging them into fourth place in the Scottish Premiership.
The derby saw a number of flare-ups, on the pitch and on the touchline, but the incident which most concerned Hibs was the one involving Cabraja, who they allege was struck by one supporter as he went to take a second-half throw-in.
“There were a number of incidents, but undoubtedly the most worrying relates to player safety and spectator involvement,” a Hibs statement released in the hours after the game said.
“[Cabraja] was confronted by several supporters before he was struck by a spectator. We have shared images, which are clear and conclusive, with senior officials at Hearts and have urged the club to investigate this immediately. Serious actions must be taken as player safety on the pitch is paramount and this incident proves that more needs to be done to protect players.
“This type of behaviour by a supporter of any club is abhorrent. We are awaiting a response from Hearts regarding this incident, so that the individual can be detected and the severest of sanctions taken against him.”
Sky Sports News has contacted Police Scotland for comment.
Meanwhile, Hibernian manager Lee Johnson took aim at his Hearts counterpart Steven Naismith as tempers flared in the aftermath of the fiery Edinburgh derby.
The pair were at loggerheads throughout. Johnson even had a hot-water bottle thrown in his direction from the home dugout after he entered the Hearts technical area to retrieve the ball.
After the two managers frostily shook hands at full-time, Johnson appeared to dig Naismith in the ribs with his fist, before a skirmish erupted in the centre circle when Hearts sub goalkeeper Ross Stewart leaned his elbow into the Hibs boss as he walked past him.
Johnson, Stewart, Hearts goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher and Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri were all shown red cards afterwards.
Asked about what caused the tension, Johnson said: “I couldn’t even tell you. It was a classic ‘my dad’s bigger than your dad’ melee-type thing.
“It was a frustrating game in terms of the ebb and the flow because there was no flow. The time-wasting was quite embarrassing at times.
“It was a case of two managers who don’t like each other very much and that’s what started it.
“I’ll keep the hot water bottle that was thrown at me for winter!
“There was a bit of needle but it happens, technical areas are a passionate place. It’s not a problem, we move on.
“I’ve been a manager that long, you see it all in the technical area. It means nothing.”
Pressed on why there was needle between he and Naismith, who has been in charge of Hearts since Johnson’s former team-mate Robbie Neilson was sacked in April, the Hibs boss said: “He’s had seven games as a manager and I just think the way he speaks is disrespectful to the previous manager.
“We’ll see after 250 games if he’s lucky enough to still be in charge of any club and if he still has that attitude.”
Naismith dismissed Johnson’s claims of disrespect towards Neilson.
“He’s fishing I think, that’s what he’s doing,” he said.
The 36-year-old also defended himself in the face of Johnson’s dig about only having been a manager for seven games.
“I’ve got a 15-year career at the top level,” he said. “I’ve managed to pull things from some of the best managers around Britain.
“I’ve been in a role for the last two years under arguably Scotland’s best manager (Steve Clarke) for a long period of time.
“I’m not naive to think I know everything, but what I have done is my homework. I’ve had two solid years of good coaching.”
Asked about the post-match flare-up, Naismith – whose side are guaranteed a crack at the Europa Conference League next term – said: “I’m not sure to be honest, I was shaking hands and getting out of there, I wasn’t getting involved in anything.
“I know these situations can turn into things, especially in a derby with high emotions, but I was just buzzing to get the result and enjoy it with the fans.”