West Ham’s players faced AZ Alkmaar fans at the end of their group game on Thursday after a section of the stadium containing friends and family of the Premier League side was attacked.
Ugly scenes at the AFAS Stadium in the Netherlands followed West Ham’s 1-0 win in the second leg of the UEFA Conference League semi-final, giving the English club their first European final since 1976.
As West Ham’s players celebrated their famous win at home, AZ’s supporters began to cause trouble, with a video on social media showing fans dressed in black, tearing down fences and running high into the dugout before throwing punches at people in the stands.
Videos show several West Ham players attempting to intervene before security arrived to calm the situation.
West Ham manager David Moyes told BT Sport after the game: “We have to wait until the dust settles but I think the biggest problem is where all the players and all their families are.
“That’s where the problem comes in, and a lot of players get upset because they can’t see that they’re safe.”
Moyes said he had family and friends in that room and was shocked when he first saw what had happened.
“What I don’t want to do in any way is to spoil our night because certainly the West Ham fans weren’t looking for trouble,” he told reporters.
“Security wanted to take me in, but I had to make sure my players didn’t get involved.”
Piroshka van de Wau / Reuters
In the second game of the semi-final, the tension rose.
On the night, West Ham goalscorer Pablo Fornals said he was concerned when he saw a group of fans running into the stands.
“I was very concerned about how my team-mates and the West Ham family were doing,” he told Sky Sports.
“Hopefully, everyone is safe and the police can do their job and figure out who did it.”
Geoff Pearson, an expert on crowd behavior in football stadiums, wrote on Twitter that it was a “complete failure” from a safety perspective.
The scenes we usually see outside the stadium on match days in Europe have become common in us. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed,” he said. he said..
Local police told CNN Sports that they will examine footage of the incident and try to identify the fans involved. He added that they have not been arrested yet.
“Together with AZ, the municipality of Alkamar and the public prosecutor’s service, we will review the events that took place last night, which we regret that it happened. This type of behavior has no place in football, a police statement said.
CNN reached out to West Ham and AZ Alkmaar for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
In a statement to CNN, European soccer’s governing body Uefa said it was too early to comment as official reports on all Thursday’s games were still being received and reviewed.
According to Reuters, a similar incident occurred after the first game in London last week when AZ fans were arrested by West Ham fans.
AZ Alkmaar coach Pascal Janssen said, “What happened last week was very sad and you feel the same as what happened tonight,” according to the BBC.
“I’m a little embarrassed that it happened in our stadium, but you have to control your emotions.”