This article was last updated on May 19, 2023
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West Ham United Relatives Attacked during AZ-Alkmaar Match
The United Kingdom reacted furiously to the storming of the main stand in Alkmaar by AZ supporters during the semi-finals of the Conference League. The incident involved many relatives and friends of West Ham United players. Players tried to intervene to protect their relatives, but AZ hooligans attacked them ruthlessly.
David Moyes Speaks Out
West Ham United coach David Moyes expressed his shock and disappointment at the incident, stating that his father was present at the attacked section. He said, “I can’t explain why this happened. Some of our players intervened because the attack was in the box where their family and friends were. It certainly was not the West Ham fans who were out for trouble.”
British Media Coverage
BBC commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball talked about the “awful scenes” as they unfolded live. “Some fans dressed in black jackets and hoods run into the lower part of the stadium area to express their displeasure. Things are getting out of hand. From a distance, I can see blows being thrown,” he noted. Newspapers in the UK covered the incident extensively, with many of them condemning the violence.
West Ham United Supporters Stand Up Against Violence
One West Ham supporter, known as ‘Knollsy,’ stood up against the hooligans and managed to stop them momentarily. He was badly beaten up, but he escaped with a few bruises and wounds. West Ham fans have hailed him as a hero, and video footage of him has gone viral on social media. Joe Cole, a former West Ham United midfielder and now a sports columnist for the Daily Telegraph, attended the game. He condemned the violence, saying, “Football is for everyone. That this is still happening in the modern game is ridiculous.”
English Football in the 1980s
The 1980s were dominated by football violence in England, with English football fans gaining a poor reputation worldwide. Football matches in the English league were regularly marred by disturbances and violence. English fans also had a notorious reputation abroad, with English hooligans seeking confrontation with the police and supporters of their opponents. Supporters of the England national team were also involved in frequent riots abroad.
The Heysel Disaster in 1985
The Heysel disaster in Brussels in 1985–involving Liverpool fans during a UEFA Champions League final against Juventus–marked the culmination of football violence in England. During the match, riots broke out, causung Juventus fans to be crushed. Thirty-nine people died, including thirty-two Italians. The incident led to English clubs being banned from European football competitions for five years as a punishment.
Current Measures to Suppress Football Violence in England
Since the 1990s, the British authorities, in collaboration with the clubs, have taken several measures to curb football violence. Fans who misbehaved have been subjected to severe penalties and lengthy stadium bans. Alcohol is prohibited within stadiums. Smarter deployment of police and stewards, along with security cameras, has paid off. England was once an example of how not to do things, but nowadays, it is European clubs that can learn from the English approach.
UEFA Urged to Take Action
Cole has appealed to UEFA to intervene and take stronger measures against football violence. It is high time that all the relevant authorities and football clubs collaborate to obliterate violence from football, a sport that unites people globally.
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