Ticket touts to blame – Ar­se­nal

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT&RACING -

LONDON: Premier League club Ar­se­nal blamed the sell­ing of tick­ets by touts for the crowd prob­lems at their Europa League game against Ger­man side FC Cologne as Uefa be­gan dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings yes­ter­day.

Cologne and Ar­se­nal have been charged with var­i­ous of­fences at the match which was de­layed by an hour after large num­bers of Ger­man fans de­scended on the Emi­rates Sta­dium, the ma­jor­ity of them with­out tick­ets.

Many bought tick­ets for ar­eas of the sta­dium oc­cu­pied by Ar­se­nal sup­port­ers, caus­ing seg­re­ga­tion is­sues, al­though there were only iso­lated in­ci­dents of trou­ble once the game started.

Cologne crit­i­cised Ar­se­nal’s se­cu­rity and felt the po­lice pres­ence was not suf­fi­cient.

Ar­se­nal said they had worked with the Metropoli­tan Po­lice and Uefa in de­cid­ing whether the game, which the English team won 3-1, went ahead.

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

“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.

“Many tick­ets were sold through touts and this is very dis­ap­point­ing,” the club added.

“We worked in full con­sul­ta­tion with po­lice and Uefa of­fi­cials on the night and in ad­vance of the game and had taken ex­ten­sive steps in ad­vance to pre­vent tick­ets be­ing sold to vis­it­ing sup­port­ers.”

Uefa said Cologne had been charged with crowd dis­tur­bances, the set­ting off of fire­works, throw­ing ob­jects and acts of dam­age to the sta­dium.

Ar­se­nal were charged with a breach of safety and se­cu­rity reg­u­la­tions be­cause of a blocked stair­way in the away end, Euro­pean soc­cer’s rul­ing body said in a state­ment.

Ar­se­nal have launched a full re­view into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the game.

They de­nied claims that some Cologne fans had ac­quired tick­ets by join­ing Ar­se­nal’s mem­ber­ship scheme.

“No red mem­ber­ships pur­chased after the draw were able to be used to get tick­ets in the home end for this match,” Ar­se­nal said. “We also worked with our col­leagues at Cologne to stop sup­port­ers trav­el­ling with­out match tick­ets.”

Bun­desliga club Cologne were play­ing in Europe for the first time for 25 years and an es­ti­mated 20,000 of their fans marched through the streets of London earlier in the day.

“The se­cu­rity con­cept and com­mu­ni­ca­tion seemed in­ad­e­quate and the po­lice force too small,” Cologne said.

“Due to the enor­mous de­mand for tick­ets, it would have been sen­si­ble, not least for se­cu­rity rea­sons, to al­low more than the al­lo­cated five per­cent of sta­dium ca­pac­ity to the guest fans.”

Uefa’s Ethics and Dis­ci­plinary Body will deal with the case on Thurs­day. – Reuters

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