West Ham players defend friends and families from violent AZ fans

Daily News
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AZ supporters broke through a fence and attacked the West Ham contingent seated in a reserved section at the AZ Stadium; a brawl ensued in which West Ham players, including captain Declan Rice, attempted to intervene; Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill was at the scene in Alkmaar

Friday 19 May 2023 00:17, UK

West Ham players were forced to defend their friends and family from angry AZ Alkmaar fans as violent scenes erupted after they beat the Dutch side to reach the Europa Conference League final.

Pablo Fornals scored in stoppage-time to seal a 1-0 win for West Ham in Alkmaar as they progressed to their first European final for 47 years with a 3-1 aggregate victory, but the celebrations were soon paused because of the trouble in the stands.

AZ supporters broke through a fence and attacked the West Ham contingent seated in a reserved section at the AZ Stadium. A brawl ensued in which West Ham players attempted to intervene.

Police and stewards then arrived on the scene to prevent further confrontation and calm was restored 10 minutes later.

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Sky Sports News’ Gary Cotterill has the latest following fan trouble after full-time of the game between West Ham and AZ Alkmaar.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, manager David Moyes said: “We’ll need to wait for the dust to settle to see what it is but the biggest problem is that is the area where the players have all their families in, friends and family.

“That is where the problem came and a lot of players were getting angry because they couldn’t get to see if they were okay. But look, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and ask the officials what really happened.”

Match-winner Fornals told Sky Sports News he did not see much of the violence as he tried to keep his team-mates inside away from the trouble but is worried about the welfare of their friends and families.

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Pablo Fornals described his reaction to the post-match trouble with AZ Alkmaar fans and West Ham players’ families after his side won to reach the Europa Conference League final.

“I didn’t see a lot because I don’t have any one here watching me [on Thursday],” he told Sky Sports News. “I hadn’t anyone to watch in that area and when the referee whistled at the end I threw myself to the floor and cried like a kid.

“After that I went inside and tried to keep the guys in because we don’t need that as players. I am really concerned about the families of my team-mates, hopefully everyone is OK and the police can do their job and realise who did it.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see their family being kicked. It’s not great when you are in that beautiful moment and people who isn’t in the same moment are trying to use violence against you.

“We cant do anything else just try to help the police to realise who did it and pray for the family of my people being good.”

UEFA will wait for the reports from the match officials and delegates before deciding next steps.

From Alkmaar: ‘Ugly scenes at full-time whistle’

Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill in Alkmaar:

“Great night for West Ham, they are into the Europa Conference League final in Prague. But some extraordinary scenes, some really ugly scenes at the full-time whistle.

“An area of West Ham fans, most of which were members of the West Ham family – relatives of the players and coaching staff, including Moyes’ 85-year-old father.

“On the final whistle some AZ fans came around with black face coverings and started attacking that section of the stadium. West Ham players celebrating on pitch saw what was going on and tried to help their family members. Three or four of the players jumped over and went into the area to try and help their family.

“At that time stewards leaped in. It took some time, but police then jumped in with riot gear and by that stage it was absolute chaos. You can understand the anxiousness and the concern of the West Ham players, who had to stop their celebrations to make sure their family members were OK.

“In the end everyone was fine but there were some really ugly scenes and there are questions to be asked about the security at this stadium and just how that was allowed to happen. I don’t think the West Ham players or West Ham have anything to explain or be blamed for because they were just trying to help their families.

“An extraordinary and very difficult end to the evening.”

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