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Aston Villa complain to UEFA over ‘shocking behaviour’ of Legia Warsaw fans

Nearly 50 Legia Warsaw fans were arrested (David Davies/PA)
Nearly 50 Legia Warsaw fans were arrested (David Davies/PA)

Aston Villa have lodged an official complaint with UEFA over the behaviour of Legia Warsaw fans ahead of the Europa Conference League clash at Villa Park.

Almost 50 people were arrested following violence involving the visiting fans prior to kick-off on Thursday night.

Missiles were thrown at police as the Polish supporters were held in a coach park near the ground before they were due to enter the stadium.

West Midlands Police said four officers were injured and, although the game started on time, no Legia fans were allowed in ahead of kick-off.

Villa also accused Legia officials of a “complete lack of cooperation” with themselves, the police and UEFA.

Villa said in a statement: “Aston Villa can confirm it has lodged an official complaint with UEFA over the conduct of Legia Warsaw Football Club and the behaviour of their supporters prior to last night’s UEFA Europa Conference League match at Villa Park.

“Four police officers were injured and 46 Legia supporters arrested after unprecedented violence by the Polish fans outside the stadium.

“This shocking behaviour followed Legia club officials’ complete lack of cooperation with West Midlands Police, Aston Villa and UEFA throughout the day.

“It started during the standard pre-match operational meeting that commenced at 10.30am on Thursday morning and was attended by UEFA representatives, including UEFA’s security team, as well as West Midlands Police including representatives from both clubs.

“Legia Warsaw refused to confirm if they would accept their allocation of tickets for the match at that point. This is in stark contrast to normal UEFA operational procedures.

Legia Warsaw fans were not allowed in Villa Park
Legia Warsaw fans were not allowed into Villa Park (Joe Giddens/PA)

“They advised the meeting that they would meet with their supporters at 2.30pm and communicate the decision at 3pm, but advised there was a possibility that they would not accept the tickets.

“Despite repeated requests before and after the 3pm deadline for a decision, there was no communication until 4pm when Legia informed Aston Villa that they wished to receive their ticket allocation.

“These tickets were handed to Legia officials immediately upon their arrival at the stadium at 6.16pm. To reiterate, Legia officials were advised on a call that included a number of UEFA representatives on November 2 that they would receive an allocation of 1,002 – exactly four weeks prior to last night’s fixture.”

Chris Heck, president of business operations at Villa, said: “The lack of cooperation and prevarication from Legia Warsaw officials prior to the match was entirely unacceptable and deeply disappointing.

“This behaviour increased the danger that West Midlands Police officers and our own fans were subjected to before the game and the scenes of disorder from the Legia fans have no place in modern football or civilised society.

“Aston Villa will be making further representations to UEFA in order to ensure that other clubs and police forces across Europe are not exposed to similar serious safety risks at the hands of Legia Warsaw.

“We are immensely grateful to West Midlands Police for keeping our supporters and our local community safe last night and are pleased that they will also be making their own representations via the UK police authorities to UEFA.”

West Midlands Police chief inspector Tim Robinson said on Thursday evening: “This should have been a great evening of football which was enjoyed by fans from both clubs.

“Unfortunately, there were appalling scenes which saw away fans dangerously throw flares and other missiles at our officers.”

He said the “extreme violence” left police with no other choice but to prevent away fans entering the stadium, adding: “The safety of everyone is our priority, and clearly we had no other option.”