Cologne crit­i­cise se­cu­rity at Ar­se­nal over chaos

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Cologne crit­i­cised se­cu­rity ar­range­ments at Ar­se­nal on Fri­day af­ter both clubs were charged by UEFA fol­low­ing chaotic scenes that marred their Europa League clash at the Emi­rates Sta­dium.

Visit­ing sup­port­ers were is­sued with around 3,000 tick­ets for Thurs­day’s Group H match but about 20,000 fans of the Ger­man club are be­lieved to have made the jour­ney to the Bri­tish cap­i­tal.

The start of the game 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.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said five peo­ple had been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of pub­lic or­der of­fences and three of­fi­cers had been in­jured as a re­sult of the dis­or­der, none of se­ri­ously.

The Ger­man club said in a state­ment: “Too few places were at­trib­uted to FC Cologne sup­port­ers be­cause five per­cent of the to­tal ca­pac­ity of the sta­dium was not suf­fi­cient. It was pre­dictable that sev­eral thou­sand sup­port­ers would try to get into the sta­dium by any means pos­si­ble.”

Cologne, who said the trou­ble­mak­ers had “caused se­vere dam­age” to the club, also crit­i­cised se­cu­rity ar­range­ments at the Emi­rates.

“De­spite the im­mense ex­pe­ri­ence of the Lon­don se­cu­rity staff, who are used to Ar­se­nal’s reg­u­lar Euro­pean matches, those in charge did not suf­fi­ciently pre­pare for the event.

“The en­tire se­cu­rity plan and the com­mu­ni­ca­tion around it ap­peared to us to be in­suf­fi­cient and there were not enough po­lice on duty.”

The Ger­man club added: “Al­though FC Cologne bear no re­spon­si­bil­ity for the acts of these trou­ble­mak­ers, we apol­o­gise to our English hosts.”

Both clubs now face dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings from Euro­pean foot­ball’s 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.

YouTube footage showed thou­sands of Cologne fans surg­ing through the streets of Lon­don be­fore the match, chant­ing and set­ting off flares.

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

Man­ager Arsene Wenger said he was sur­prised the game went ahead.

“I thought they would not play the game, be­cause I can’t see the po­lice tak­ing any risk,” he said.

“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 the small mi­nor­ity of fans who mis­be­haved had “brought shame on the club”.

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 kick-off,” 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 equalised 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.”

“I’m the coach, my job is the team, my job is foot­ball not the fans,” the Aus­trian added. - AFP

Po­lice in­side the sta­dium keep an eye on Cologne sup­port­ers in the stands as the kick off is de­layed due to crowd safety is­sues ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group H foot­ball match be­tween Ar­se­nal and FC Cologne at The Emi­rates Sta­dium in Lon­don on Septem­ber 14, 2017. - AFP photo

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