Cologne fans mar Arse­nal clash

UEFA charge both clubs over chaos at Europa League tie

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS - Page Edi­tor: luwe­nao@glob­al­

Euro­pean soc­cer chiefs charged Arse­nal and Cologne on Fri­day af­ter vast num­bers of away fans gained ac­cess to the home sec­tions of Emi­rates Sta­dium in Lon­don, spark­ing chaotic scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Vis­it­ing fans were is­sued with 3,000 tick­ets but around 20,000 fans of the Ger­man club are be­lieved to have made the jour­ney to the Bri­tish cap­i­tal.

The start of the match was de­layed by an hour as tick­et­less Cologne fans tried to gain en­try to the ground in north Lon­don and there were clearly thou­sands of away sup­port­ers sit­ting among Arse­nal fans, caus­ing a se­cu­rity risk.

Arse­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger said he had been pre­par­ing for a post­pone­ment, de­scrib­ing the de­ci­sion to play Thurs­day’s Group H tie as a “gam­ble.”

Both clubs now face dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings from gov­ern­ing body UEFA.

Cologne fans are ac­cused of crowd dis­tur­bances, set­ting off fire­works, throw­ing ob­jects and caus­ing acts of dam­age, while Arse­nal face a probe for “stair­ways blocked in away sup­port­ers sec­tor.”

UEFA said it would deal with the cases on Septem­ber 21. Five ar­rests were made dur­ing the evening.

Arse­nal is­sued a state­ment in­sist­ing the safety of sup­port­ers was the main con­cern at the time as the club launched a “full review” of the events.

Ear­lier, YouTube footage showed thou­sands of Cologne fans surg­ing through the streets of Lon­don, chant­ing in uni­son and set­ting off flares.

“Fol­low­ing last night’s UEFA Europa League match with Cologne, we would like to stress that fan safety was al­ways our para­mount con­cern and in­formed all de­ci­sions made,” Arse­nal’s state­ment said.

“We have launched a full review into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the game and will en­sure any les­sons that can be learned are used in the fu­ture.”

Arse­nal said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing how away fans gained ac­cess af­ter pic­tures emerged of a mi­nor­ity of Cologne sup­port­ers caus­ing prob­lems for stew­ards in­side the sta­dium.

“They [Cologne fans] were very clever,” said Wenger. “I don’t know how they man­aged to in­fil­trate our fans and get ev­ery­where but they did that very well.

“We live in a so­ci­ety of 100 per­cent se­cu­rity and I thought they would never take a gam­ble to play this game when I saw the images around the sta­dium. But I must say our sup­port­ers as well dealt well with the sit­u­a­tion and there was no ag­gra­va­tion.”

Cologne goal­keeper Timo Horn said fans who mis­be­haved had “brought shame on the club” and club le­gend Bodo Ill­gner, a World Cup­win­ning goal­keeper with Ger­many in 1990, also crit­i­cized the small mi­nor­ity of fans who mis­be­haved.

Arse­nal’s state­ment also said it was “very dis­ap­point­ing” that so many home tick­ets ap­peared to have been pur­chased by Cologne sup­port­ers via ticket touts af­ter the club worked closely with po­lice, who de­ployed ex­tra num­bers once the trou­ble be­gan, and UEFA.

“The 3,000 tick­ets is­sued to Cologne fans was in line with com­pe­ti­tion rules but it is clear many more vis­it­ing fans ar­rived, caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­ges­tion and dis­tur­bance out­side the sta­dium be­fore kickoff,” it said.

“Many tick­ets were sold through touts and this is very dis­ap­point­ing and some­thing we con­tinue to work hard to ad­dress.”

Arse­nal won the match 3-1 af­ter fall­ing be­hind to a long-range strike from Jhon Cor­doba be­fore bounc­ing back in the sec­ond half. Sub­sti­tute Sead Ko­lasinac equal­ized be­fore goals from Alexis Sanchez and Hec­tor Bel­lerin gave the Lon­don­ers the win.

Cologne coach Peter Stoeger re­fused to be ques­tioned on the ac­tions of the club’s sup­port­ers, say­ing, “I have no com­ment about the fans.”

Cologne fans let off flares in the stands dur­ing the match be­tween Arse­nal and Cologne on Thurs­day in Lon­don.

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