West Ham United players had little time to celebrate their Europa Conference League semi-final win over AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night after several of them leapt into the stands to defend their friends and family following a massive brawl that broke out when a group of Dutch fans stormed the area designated for the match. visiting team.
A violent scene unfolded at the AZ stadium in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, when a group of Dutch fans broke through a fence and attacked West Ham fans after the team’s 3-1 victory, various media reported.
According to the Associated Press, players including Michail Antonio, Said Benrahma, Aaron Cresswell and Flynn Downes took to the stands in an attempt to stop the melee.
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«I can’t explain what happened and why it happened,» said West Ham manager David Moyes, whose 87-year-old father was at the match. «I can only say that the players were involved because it was the family section, and most of their family and friends were there. That was probably the reason for the reaction.»
AZ issued a stern statement condemning the incident, which the club called a «completely black night».
«While everyone was waiting for a historic European match, it turned into a completely dark night due to the events that occurred with the referee’s final whistle. It became a night to reflect on with shame. Not because of the football match played, but because of the behavior of some visitors. Unfortunately, we cannot use the word ‘supporters’ for these people,» the statement read.
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«What happened is beyond all bounds. The club once again sincerely apologizes to West Ham United and the thousands of AZ supporters who have also been upset by the misconduct.»
The club said it will work with police to investigate the incident and warned that the attackers could face «consequences» for their «outrageous behaviour».
«AZ is a civilized club where fair play and standards and values are paramount. The club will do everything possible, together with the authorities involved, to identify these people and take appropriate action.»
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No injuries or arrests have been reported, but several AZ players have also spoken out to condemn the actions of the fans involved.
«I don’t even call you supporters. Just stay home if you have such intentions,» defender Pantelis Hatzidiakos said after the game, via Reuters.
«What a beautiful night, what a great atmosphere, I really enjoyed it until the final whistle. What happened after that, I find it very sad and unfortunate.»
Associated Press contributed to this report.