UEFA investigate AZ Alkmaar trouble as fans attack West Ham family members
UEFA are expected to launch an investigation after AZ Alkmaar thugs carried out a grim attack on West Ham players’ families following last night’s Europa Conference League semi-final here in Holland.
West Ham reached their first European final since 1976, after substitute Pablo Fornals’s 94th-minute winner sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory, but the historic triumph was marred by horrific scenes after the final whistle.
A large group of hooded Alkmaar fans broke out of their section behind the home goal and ran around the perimeter of the pitch to attack the visiting contingent as they celebrated the 1-0 win for David Moyes’s side.
The group of West Ham supporters in question included club officials, former players and the families of players and staff, who were seated together in the home section of the ground as part of the travelling side’s corporate allocation, as is the norm at UEFA fixtures.
Several West Ham players weighed in to protect family members, while footage on social media showed one Hammers supporter fighting off dozens of Alkmaar fans as they attempted to climb the stairs into the stand.
UEFA were this morning reviewing the incident before deciding upon their next steps, but Alkmaar seem likely to have the book thrown at them, having already been sanctioned over fan behaviour twice in the last 15 months.
The club was hit with five-figure fines and partial stadium closures following crowd trouble at last year’s Conference League knockout meeting with Bodo/Glimt and this season’s qualifying fixture against Gil Vicente. The stadium ban element of the latter punishment was partially suspended on appeal, but only pending a one-year probationary period of good behaviour, which is yet to expire.
Alkmaar manager Pascal Jansen said he was “ashamed” by the incidents, which were also met with boos and whistles from large, peaceful sections of the home crowd. Despite the clashes, Dutch police said this morning there had been no arrests.
“It should not be happening,” Jansen said. “You have to stay in control of your emotions.”
West Ham boss Moyes, whose elderly father, David Snr, was among those seated in the area, was left furious by the chaos.
“I can’t explain what happened and why it happened,” Moyes said. “Players were involved because it was the family section. That was probably the reason for the reaction. I don’t want that in any way to blight the night, because West Ham fans weren’t looking for trouble.
“Hopefully, they’ll look into it. My family were there and I had friends in that section. You hope they would try and get themselves away from it. I didn’t recognise it because I was too happy. Security wanted to take me inside but I had to make sure my players weren’t involved.”
There will be major questions for UEFA to answer over their policy of seating significant numbers of travelling supporters within the home ends at such matches. The governing body pressed on with the plan at last night’s game despite warning signs at the London Stadium’s reverse fixture seven days earlier, when Hammers fans were involved in a more minor, verbal altercation with Alkmaar family members, which led to the Dutch entourage being relocated to another part of the ground.
West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola also questioned how Alkmaar’s ultras had met so little resistance in breaking out of their end.
“Security is the most important thing in a stadium,” he said. “It was a bit too open for the opposing fans. When families or fans are coming to the stadium we don’t want to see things like that. They want to enjoy the event and we want to enjoy it with them as well. We were worried about them.”