English police have confirmed that 46 soccer fans were arrested Thursday night following Aston Villa’s victory over Legia Warsaw. Authorities claim that all of the arrests were traveling Legia supporters. The fans clashed with both Villa supporters and police throughout the night. As a result, the visitors were barred from entering Villa Park to watch the game.
Birmingham police decided to ban Legia fans from the stadium after multiple police officers were injured in the melee. “We’re currently unable to allow away fans into Villa Park following disorder outside the stadium which has seen missiles thrown at officers,” the force claimed on social media. “Three officers have already been injured & a significant policing operation continues.”
Police claim that they were attacked for 90 minutes during the night
One of the injured officers was set on fire due to a flare being thrown by a Legia fan. The officer is recovering in an area hospital from the burns. West Midlands police issued a further statement on the ordeal on Friday. The organization claims that their force was under attack for an hour-and-a-half and four of the violators assaulted emergency workers.
“Officers faced 90 minutes of sustained violence, and four were injured,” stated the police. “We’re proud of our officers, and thank Aston Villa fans for their support. Of the suspects, 41 of those were arrested for violent disorder, four for possession of a knife/offensive weapon, and four for assaulting emergency workers.”
“All of those arrested are away fans, and we’ll be working hard to charge and remand those suspects where we can today.”
UEFA also strongly criticized the behavior of the traveling Polish fans. The governing body released a statement of their own on Friday as well. “UEFA strongly condemns the unacceptable violence which occurred around the Aston Villa vs. Legia Warsaw match,” the statement read.
“UEFA is in the process of gathering all official reports from the game before deciding on potential next steps.”
Ticking allocation the cause for skirmishes by Legia fans
Mail Sport reports that the traveling fans were upset over Villa’s insistence on reducing the number of tickets the travelers could purchase. The Premier League club lowered Legia’s ticket allocation to just 890 seats. This decision was, however, made after discussing the matter with local authorities.
Current UEFA rules state that visiting fans are allowed 5% of the stadium’s seating capacity. This figure would have been about 2,100 tickets at Villa Park. Legia has since criticized Villa’s handling of the situation due to the decrease in ticket allocation to their fans.
“Instead of diffusing potential prematch tensions, restrictive measures of Aston Villa F.C. as the host club needlessly exacerbate the atmosphere,” proclaimed the Polish club. “In our view, such measures are counterproductive and unfounded.”
Villa, however, hit back at the claims by saying that the English club and UEFA collectively decided to decrease Legia’s allocated tickets nearly a month ago. The move to limit traveling fans was at the advice of safety authorities following previous events. Two Legia players were arrested following their matchup with AZ Alkmaar in October.
Despite the chaos, Villa went on to beat Legia 2-1 on the night. Defender Alex Moreno sealed the victory for the hosts with a second-half strike. The win puts Villa atop Group E of the Europa Conference League, three points ahead of Legia. Each club in the group has one match remaining on the schedule.
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