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Cologne blame Arsenal and police for Emirates crowd issues

by 15/09/2017 19:07:00 0 comments 1 Views

By Matt Barlow for the Daily Mail

Published: 11:43 EDT, 15 September 2017 | Updated: 19:07 EDT, 15 September 2017

Arsenal escaped major sanction for their role in a night of Europa League chaos but have been accused of failing to make adequate preparations for the visit of Cologne.

The German club are set to take the brunt of the blame from UEFA, who issued four disciplinary charges against them relating to crowd disturbances, fireworks, missiles thrown and acts of damage.

Arsenal were charged over a blocked stairway in the away end and are expected to be fined less than £10,000. But there has been criticism of their readiness for this Europa League tie against a team with such a large and passionate fan-base. 

Baying police dogs bark at Cologne fans  as crowd trouble mars the Europa League fixture
Baying police dogs bark at Cologne fans  as crowd trouble mars the Europa League fixture

Baying police dogs bark at Cologne fans as crowd trouble mars the Europa League fixture

Cologne supporters lit flares as they gathered during the match in the away end
Cologne supporters lit flares as they gathered during the match in the away end

Cologne supporters lit flares as they gathered during the match in the away end

A statement from Cologne released on Friday included an apology for the behaviour of some fans and stressed there was no excuse for attacks on security staff and police. It also claimed Arsenal and the Metropolitan

Police were not adequately prepared despite their vast experience in hosting European football.

'In our view, the security concept and communication seemed inadequate and the police force too small,' said the Bundesliga club.  

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

'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 Cologne fans. Some as gifts, but some also for horrendous prices.' 

In order to navigate the terraces some supporters were spotted clambering over seats
In order to navigate the terraces some supporters were spotted clambering over seats

In order to navigate the terraces some supporters were spotted clambering over seats

Cologne repeatedly asked for more tickets before Thursday's game, aware of the thousands who were planning to make the short trip to London to savour their first European tie for 25 years. 

Arsenal were opponents within easy reach, in a huge stadium with fans who are used to the Champions League and not nearly as interested in the Europa League as the visitors.

It generated a perfect ticket storm with huge demand from away fans, far in excess of the 3,000 seats they were allocated, and low demand from home supporters.

Many Germans bought re-sold tickets for Arsenal areas of the ground, causing the Emirates Stadium to be locked down and the kick-off delayed as impromptu security meetings were held.

The game went ahead an hour late and Arsene Wenger's team came from behind to win 3-1. Only five arrests were made but supporters complained about the intimidating presence of Cologne fans, especially in the section of the ground designated as a family area.  

The match at the Emirates Stadium was subject to a one-hour kick-off delay 
The match at the Emirates Stadium was subject to a one-hour kick-off delay 

The match at the Emirates Stadium was subject to a one-hour kick-off delay 

Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, called it a 'dangerous throwback to a bygone era' and said some Cologne fans had behaved with 'yobbish abandon'.

Tim Payton of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust called on the club to get to grips with its ticket touting problem. He said: 'I would challenge the decision not to give a bigger allocation to Cologne fans. 

'And I would challenge the readiness of the club and the police on the day. But the club clearly has an issue with touting and we will be asking Arsenal to put more resources into tackling the problem with more personnel, better screening or by working more closely with the police.'

Like other big clubs, Arsenal fear they have a significant number of touts within their membership and season-ticket holders who gain easy access to tickets to sell on the black market. Proving these offences is more difficult owing to the complexities of the laws surrounding ticket touting.

Arsenal have promised a full review into the circumstances of Thursday night and vowed to ban any members found to have sold tickets to Cologne supporters. 

Riot police stand on guard as crowds of Cologne fans chant and sing inside the stadium 
Riot police stand on guard as crowds of Cologne fans chant and sing inside the stadium 

Riot police stand on guard as crowds of Cologne fans chant and sing inside the stadium 

The club rejected accusations that they were not prepared and are satisfied with the way the security operation at the Emirates Stadium was able to defuse the situation with the help of a one-hour delay to the game.

A decision was made to allow fans into the stadium with genuine tickets even though it would inevitably mean away supporters in the home end. Arsenal estimate fewer than 10,000 Cologne fans bought tickets for the home sections of the ground and made it inside. 

Some with forgeries were stopped at the turnstiles and turned away. Wenger admitted there was a time when he thought the match would be postponed.  

Cologne fans light a bright red flare as they cheer on their team at the Emirates Stadium 
Cologne fans light a bright red flare as they cheer on their team at the Emirates Stadium 

Cologne fans light a bright red flare as they cheer on their team at the Emirates Stadium 

'It looked like 90 per cent it would not take place,' said the Arsenal boss. 'I thought security would never take a gamble on creating problems. To cancel the game could be worse outside the stadium. We are completely open to an enquiry but on our side I think we worked very hard to organise the game well.'

Arsenal's captain Per Mertesacker said it had been difficult to handle the delay but enjoyed the atmosphere. 

'In a way, it was quite fun to play in front of two crowds battling each other,' said Mertesacker. 'It felt good to be part of that, especially when we were 1-0 down and trying to get back into the game for the fans.

'I don't know what happened outside. I just wanted to make sure my family was OK. So mixed feelings, but in the end we were happy to have played and finished the game.'

COLOGNE STATEMENT ON CROWD TROUBLE 

Cologne condemns the events, which led to the delay of the match against Arsenal FC on Thursday evening. The club would like to make the following statement.

Cologne is proud that tens of thousands of Colognians wanted to experience the first European FC match in 25 years and made their way to London. The overwhelming majority of our fans have represented the club, the city of Cologne, and German football happily and positively. The London locals and the police shared these feelings on social media leading up to the match.

Due to the enormous demand for tickets, it would have been sensible, not least for security reasons, to allow more than the allocated 5% of stadium capacity to the guest fans. 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 FC has described the extent of this second ticket market as 'disappointing' and has announced that further clarifications of the circumstances will be evaluated.

Despite Cologne and Arsenal FC urging fans to purchase tickets only through official channels and not to enter any sections other than the guest section wearing FC merchandise, the situation before the match showed FC fans lining up in various sections to enter the stadium. And also despite the tremendous experience of both the London security forces and Arsenal as a permanent partaker in European football, the organizers were unfortunately not adequately prepared for the task. In our view, the security concept and communication seemed inadequate and the police force too small.

The most important common goal of having the match played on the same evening was achieved by allowing fans with valid tickets to quickly take their seats. This procedure proved to be the correct decision. Finally, the course of the match showed that the mixing of home and away fans did not constitute a safety risk for this match.

Cologne will intensively evaluate and work together with Arsenal FC, the security forces, and the representatives of UEFA to discuss what measures need to be taken to prevent such things, such as the shifted kick off time, in the future.

That said, Cologne would like to unmistakably make it clear that there is no excuse or justification for the fact that a group of so-called disturbers threatened, insulted, and even attacked stewards and police officers without cause. We distance ourselves from this explicitly. These people are solely responsible for the fact that a football match with a special meaning for an entire region, as well as the courageous effort of our team on the pitch, had to be overshadowed by scenes that had nothing to do with sport and fair play. Although Cologne is not responsible for the acts of these so-called disturbers, we ask our English hosts to accept our apology.

Cologne supporters were stopped on a walkway as they tried to get to the Emirates 
Cologne supporters were stopped on a walkway as they tried to get to the Emirates 

Cologne supporters were stopped on a walkway as they tried to get to the Emirates 

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