Ar­se­nal and Cologne charged for fan chaos

Uefa takes ac­tion af­ter Emi­rates crowd trou­ble Away fans bought tick­ets from home mem­bers

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Ben Rumsby

A row erupted last night over who was to blame for the vi­o­lence and chaos to en­gulf Ar­se­nal’s open­ing Europa League match af­ter Uefa charged both clubs.

The gov­ern­ing body opened dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against each club. Cologne face ac­tion for the be­hav­iour of fans which threat­ened to cause Thurs­day’s Group H game to be aban­doned, in­clud­ing crowd dis­tur­bances, the set­ting off of fire­works, the throw­ing of ob­jects and acts of dam­age.

Ar­se­nal, who were charged only with the block­ing of stair­ways in an away sup­porter sec­tion, also launched a “full re­view” into events that caused the kick-off to be post­poned by more than an hour, riot po­lice and po­lice dogs de­ployed in­side the Emi­rates Sta­dium, and five ar­rests made.

The club lay the blame on the thou­sands of Cologne fans who had ob­tained tick­ets “il­le­gally”, as well as warn­ing any sub­scriber to Ar­se­nal’s mem­ber­ship scheme found to have pro­vided such tick­ets would be ex­pelled from the scheme, with fur­ther “ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion taken”.

Cologne, some of whose sup­port­ers dis­guised them­selves as home fans, hit back by ac­cus­ing their hosts of be­ing “not ad­e­quately pre­pared” for what un­folded and brand­ing the po­lice pres­ence at the match as hav­ing been “too small”.

They also crit­i­cised Ar­se­nal for fail­ing to take the “sen­si­ble” step of mak­ing more than the min­i­mum 2,900 tick­ets avail­able to vis­it­ing sup­port­ers, given the huge de­mand from a side play­ing their first Euro­pean match for 25 years and the pre­dictable lack of in­ter­est from home fans in their club’s first sea­son out­side the Cham­pi­ons League for al­most as long.

Sup­port­ers of both clubs echoed those sen­ti­ments, with some Ar­se­nal fans claim­ing they had been told by Ger­mans who ob­tained tick­ets in the home end that they had done so by join­ing their op­po­nents’ mem­ber­ship scheme af­ter last month’s draw and buy­ing through their of­fi­cial ticket ex­change ser­vice. Ar­se­nal last night de­clared that would have been im­pos­si­ble, with a block on such sales one of the key fea­tures on that ser­vice, al­though the club did ad­mit pre-ex­ist­ing mem­bers would have been able to buy tick­ets and sell them on to Cologne fans il­le­gally.

It emerged yes­ter­day that thou­sands of those fans had got tick­ets from Ar­se­nal mem­bers and on re­sale plat­forms such as Vi­a­gogo, Stubhub and Tick­et­bis, as well as from Craigslist. One thing no one dis­puted was that many, many more sup­port­ers trav­elled to Lon­don for the game – an es­ti­mated 20,000 – than could be re­al­is­ti­cally ac­com­mo­dated at the Emi­rates.

De­spite launch­ing a re­view to learn lessons from Thurs­day’s chaos, Ar­se­nal were adamant they were not to blame for tick­ets in the home end be­ing sold to away sup­port­ers, in­sist­ing they had taken “ex­ten­sive steps” to pre­vent that in con­sul­ta­tion with their op­po­nents.

Es­ti­mat­ing less than 10,000 Cologne fans got into the game, they added: “Un­for­tu­nately, there were clearly many Cologne sup­port­ers in Ar­se­nal sec­tions of the sta­dium. They ob­tained their tick­ets il­le­gally, most likely via ticket touts.

“Any tick­ets found that have been sold or pur­chased il­le­gally will be traced back to the orig­i­nal

‘There was a big fail­ure in sen­si­ble plan­ning and that’s one of the lessons that needs learn­ing’

pur­chaser who will have their mem­ber­ship can­celled and the ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion taken.”

Cologne con­demned and apol­o­gised for “the fact that a group of so-called dis­turbers threat­ened, in­sulted, and even at­tacked stew­ards and po­lice of­fi­cers with­out cause”, but only af­ter at­tack­ing Ar­se­nal’s re­fusal to award a larger ticket al­lo­ca­tion. “It would have been sen­si­ble, not least for se­cu­rity rea­sons, to al­low more than the al­lo­cated five per cent of sta­dium ca­pac­ity to the guest fans,” they said.

“It was ap­par­ent that thou­sands of peo­ple from Cologne would seek to avoid the re­stric­tions and get tick­ets in ev­ery way pos­si­ble. One such way would be through the help of Ar­se­nal sup­port­ers, who passed on their tick­ets to the FC fans. Some as gifts, but some also for hor­ren­dous prices.”

Ar­se­nal con­firmed they had con­sid­ered a re­quest for Cologne for more tick­ets but did not want to “dis­ad­van­tage home fans”, point­ing out the match had been vir­tu­ally sold out. But Tim Pay­ton of the Ar­se­nal Sup­port­ers’ Trust told The Daily Tele­graph the club should have given their op­po­nents 9,000 tick­ets, as they would for an FA Cup tie. “They knew full well Ar­se­nal fans were not go­ing to buy these tick­ets or would put them into the of­fi­cial ticket ex­change,” he said.

“There was a big fail­ure in sen­si­ble plan­ning there and that’s where one of the lessons needs learn­ing.”

Arne Stein­berg, man­ag­ing ed­i­tor of the FC Cologne fanzine ef­fzeh. com, said: “I know that Cologne asked Ar­se­nal two times for an al­lo­ca­tion of at least 10,000 tick­ets. The de­layed kick-off was the re­sult of bad man­age­ment.” Pay­ton added: “If the seg­re­ga­tion had bro­ken down when we were play­ing a Turk­ish team or with Red Star Bel­grade fans, who are due later in the group, it could have been carnage.”

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