David Moyes has issued a plea to supporters amid safety concerns heading into tomorrow night’s Europa League clash with Olympiacos, but called on his West Ham players to “embrace and enjoy” the hostile atmosphere in Greece.
On Sunday, Olympiacos’s league meeting with local rivals Panathinaikos was abandoned mid-game after a player was struck by a firework and the Athens club have issued a statement to supporters ahead of Thursday’s contest warning that bad behaviour could see them sanctioned by Uefa.
West Ham were themselves forced to play away in Freiburg without travelling fans earlier this month as punishment for trouble during last season’s Europa Conference League final win over Fiorentina in Prague and Moyes is desperate to see the match go off without a hitch.
“They’ve got great support here, fantastic enthusiasm and it’s great to come to a football city where the football really matters,” the Scot said. “That’s what you want, you want the passion and the atmosphere.
“But you also want good behaviour, from our supporters and Olympiacos supporters. It’s a game. It’s really important that everyone works well together and we end up with a good night.
“You’re not helping your club and that includes our supporters as well. You’re not doing your club any favours if you’re getting banned, or stadiums bans or your team getting thrown out of Europe, for example.”
The Hammers are looking to extend their record unbeaten streak in Uefa competition, which currently stands at 17 matches, and continue their 100 percent start to this season’s group stage.
That run stretches back to the Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in May 2022, and Moyes’s side have since come through a number of testing environments, most notably in last season’s Conference League semi-final win against AZ Alkmaar where a section of visiting supporters that included players' family and friends were attacked by Dutch ultras.
Asked whether his team could hope to silence the home crowd, Moyes said: “I think you just have to embrace it and enjoy it. If you’re a football man you want big atmospheres.
“What we’ve got to remember is football is a game. We are seeing so many things throughout the world right now. Remember we’re all here to enjoy a game of football.”