Cologne blame Arse­nal and the po­lice for poor prepa­ra­tion

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - MARTHA KELNER and ROB DAVIES

Cologne have ac­cused Arse­nal and the Metropoli­tan po­lice of be­ing ill-pre­pared to man­age crowds be­fore the Europa League tie at the Emi­rates Sta­dium which was blighted by pre-match chaos.

The Ger­man club apol­o­gised to Arse­nal for what they called in­ex­cus­able be­hav­iour from a small num­ber of their fans. But they also claimed a lack of for­ward plan­ning con­trib­uted to scenes be­fore the match which saw away sup­port­ers in­volved in skir­mishes with stew­ards.

Thou­sands of Cologne fans were able to buy tick­ets from Arse­nal mem­bers and tick­et­ing web­sites, fuelling the scenes that caused the kick-off to be de­layed an hour.

In a state­ment, Cologne said: “De­spite the tremen­dous ex­pe­ri­ence of both the London se­cu­rity forces and Arse­nal as a per­ma­nent par­taker in Euro­pean foot­ball, the or­gan­is­ers were un­for­tu­nately not ad­e­quately pre­pared for the task. In our view, the se­cu­rity con­cept and com­mu­ni­ca­tion seemed in­ad­e­quate and the po­lice force too small.”

Cologne have been is­sued with four Uefa dis­ci­plinary charges re­lat­ing to crowd dis­tur­bances, set­ting off flares, throw­ing of ob­jects and acts of dam­age.

Arse­nal have been charged with hav­ing a blocked stair­way in the away sec­tion, with all the cases to be heard next week by the Uefa con­trol, ethics and dis­ci­plinary body. Five ar­rests were made.

Arse­nal pledged to carry out a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The club said it had taken a num­ber of mea­sures be­fore the match “in­clud­ing en­sur­ing no tick­ets were sold via gen­eral sale and that no red mem­ber­ships pur­chased af­ter the draw were able to be used to get tick­ets in the home end for this match”.

“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 kick-off,” the club added.

“Many tick­ets were sold through touts and this is very dis­ap­point­ing. 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.”

Re­sale of foot­ball tick­ets is il­le­gal in the UK, but Cologne fans said they were able to se­cure seats in the home end via Craigslist, in­de­pen­dent ticket touts and web­sites such as Vi­a­gogo and Tick­et­bis, owned by StubHub. The tick­et­ing ex­pert Reg Walk­er­said the chaotic scenes at the Emi­rates were the “di­rect re­sult of touts re­selling tick­ets”.

Cologne fans set off a flares in the stands dur­ing the game against Arse­nal

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