Updated 7pm with Portelli comment

The police are investigating a video circulating on social media in which a number of Ħamrun Spartans supporters appear to be having a post-match celebration in breach of COVID-19 regulations, gathering in large numbers and failing to wear a mask.

In the footage, club president and Gozitan property magnate Joseph Portelli can be seen lighting a cigarette inside a catering establishment. He also is not shown wearing a mask. 

A police spokesperson told Times of Malta that the footage was being investigated, with officers in the process of verifying whether it was filmed on Saturday as alleged.

Meanwhile, a number of individuals who appear in the video have been identified and are being spoken to by the police. 

The spokesperson added that the establishment where the footage was filmed holds a snack bar license and is permitted to open in accordance with current pandemic restrictions. The Malta Tourism Authority has been notified about the video and been asked to assist as the regulating authority. 

A representative for Ħamrun Spartans declined to comment on the incident but said the club would be issuing a statement in due course. 

The video was taken on Saturday evening, after Ħamrun Spartans won 2-0 against Birkirkara FC. The club is currently at the top of the premier league table, with Saturday’s match being their fourth consecutive win. 

'I apologise for breaking the law' - Portelli

Later on Sunday, club president Joseph Portelli acknowledged that he had broken the law.

"The moment I walked in, everyone jumped onto me," he said. "I like it." 

"I apologise for breaking the law. I didn’t do so capriciously [bi ksuħat], I broke the law because I was happy about winning," he said during ONE TV sports show L-Argument.

This is not the first occasion that Ħamrun Spartans supporters have come under scrutiny for an alleged breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

Following a 3-0 victory over Valletta on January 28, a number of Ħamrun Spartans supporters turned out in the streets of Ħamrun to celebrate, despite warnings from the club not to.  A number of people had gathered in the streets in breach of social distancing rules and most appearing not to be wearing masks. 

A police spokesperson added that on Saturday the Ħamrun district police took precautionary measures to prevent a similar incident, with a number of officers patrolling the streets to prevent supporters from gathering in celebration, in violation of COVID-19 regulations. 

“No celebrations were reported in any street and the police did not have to intervene, and all bars were found closed,” the spokesperson said. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us