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August 2021

Disturbances at the Emirates Stadium

By Tony Attwood

During the match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich there were two separate disturbances that I noticed from my seat in block 99.  I haven’t seen anything in the way of commentary on these – although obviously I don’t get to see all the media, so someone else may have picked up on them.  Certainly both were rather worrying.

The first event was the letting off of flares by the Bayern supporters.  As far as I know flares are absolutely not allowed within the stadium, not least because the flares can cause injury to those around the flare, and the flares themselves can be thrown towards other spectators, or onto the pitch.   Certainly at entrance D where I enter the ground, there are stewards at every turnstile checking what we bring into the ground and I had assumed it was to check not just if we were committing the dreadful crime of bringing our own water bottle into the ground but to see if we were smuggling something more serious within the Ems.

Now we all know that flares can be dismantled and individual parts can be carried by different people who then re-assemble the flares once they are in position.   That’s old news, and I am sure that the stewards are instructed to watch out for that at the away end.  So clearly searching must have been done along these lines.  But still the flares got into the ground.  How?

I raise this point, not just because I don’t want someone throwing a flare at me but also because I have commented in passing over the years about the security in the ground, which includes (or at least in the past has included) the removal of the plastic tops from water bottles when sold in the ground.

Thus I am not only prohibited from bringing my own drink into the stadium, I am also prohibited from having very small plastic bottle top – presumably because I might be able to flick it 10 inches.  Yet at the same time security at the away end seems to be so lax that people can just bring flares in, as and when they want.  That is concerning.  Concerning because the precautions seem to have been drawn up by a Jobsworth who has created a list of possible disasters that can be caused by water bottle tops but not by flares.

Worse, when the flares were lit, there were no stewards anywhere near the fans with the flares – and from the look of it from the opposite end of the ground, the stewards were utterly unable to get anywhere near the fans, even if they felt like it.

Yet this is in a ground where there are stewards all over the place.   Two of them stand having a natter at the top of the entrance gangway for block 99, and I have to edge past them to go in and turn right to get to my seat.  I am sure they are jolly nice people, but I am not sure why they are there.   Especially when there is no one at the top of the next entrance, in front of the disabled supporters section, where fans sometimes crouch near the end of the game (effectively blocking the exits) waiting for the final whistle.

But back to flares.  At least two went off, and stayed alight for some time.  No one did anything, and I would like to know why not.

Near the end of the game however the stewards were very much in evidence at the top of the upper level fairly central behind the goal in the north bank.  I don’t know what happened because I was watching the game, but when I looked behind I saw lots of stewards edging people one way and another, and a bit of pushing and shoving going on.

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So it seems stewards can be detailed to get into the crowd of Arsenal supporters, but not be told to get among the visiting supporters.  Again I would like to ask “why not?” in relation to the visitors’ end.  If the fact is that the supporters are all standing and there are too many of them packed in there, then two options are available:

a) limit the number of visiting supporters as Aston Villa have done against Arsenal (on the grounds that people won’t sit down)

b) give everyone a notice that says, if you stand during the game you will be removed.

Do I want this to happen? Of course not, but I am getting concerned about the way this is panning out.  Seemingly the club cannot stop flares coming into the ground and being let off, but they can stop people bringing their own water into the ground, and can insist on tops being removed from water bottles.

This shows something is seriously wrong.  I don’t want more and more rules and restrictions – I actually want fewer rules and restrictions.  I want rules and restrictions that stop really dangerous objects coming into the ground, but I don’t want rules and restrictions that stop regular fans behaving in a regular, reasonable manner.

Is that too much to ask for?

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28 comments to Disturbances at the Emirates Stadium

  • nihirealist

    Apparently another incident occurred where one of the Munich coaches/staff threw a full Pepsi bottle into the Arsenal fans. It didn’t catch anyone but the crowd were upset while the stewards didn’t realise what had happened. Apparently they Bayern coach/staff member was told at half time to not come out for the second half.

  • Noodlepop

    The reason bottle tops are removed is not because the tops themselves might be used as missiles but so that a full bottle with the top on can’t be thrown

  • RDSTurbo

    I am in section 101… reason for the altercation was an individual around row 30 shouts abuse at AW and the board every game, and when we went 3-1 down went into his normal frenzy (usually about money in the bank). Some took offence that he was not supporting the club and its annoying, and told him to shut the f**k up. Basically, it turned into a bit of “I’ll see you after the match” and the steward chucked him out. To be fair, although he used abusive language, the points he makes are true. Just some supporters cant face up to that truth. Usual response is you should have seen us in the 70s / 80s etc. Unfortuantely, we werent a “superclub” charging “super prices” then, so that doesnt stack up.

  • ClockEndRider

    The reason bottle tops are removed is not so that a full bottle with the top on can’t be thrown but so that a full bottle needs to be bought.

  • Terry

    I was at a top London theatre last night. Patrons were allowed to bring pints of beer and glasses of wine to their seats. How civilised! What are football fans – the great unwashed?

  • ataf

    Terry, don’t you think there is a bit of a difference between the theatre and football? Theatre goers are not going to form rival groups and argue about how they should interpret waiting for godot leading to more physical conflict.

  • ataf

    btw why is it people say wenger isn’t the club and then blame him alone when the club fails, seems a bit contradictory to me?

  • Noobmb

    I love it when fans use flares as 4 standing who cares we all do it

  • Mandy Dodd

    I don’t think anyone should be allowed into football grounds in 1970s clothing

  • Terry Garratt

    Reason for not allowing bottles of liquid into ground is because these could contain liquid explosive. Same reason can,t take bottles on planes.

  • M. Thomas

    Over a period of 3 or 4 weeks I went to watch Chelsea at Southampton,Swansea & Newcastle.

    At Southampton to gain access we only had to go past one male and one female steward who covered 2 turnstyles between them. They searched bags but no one entering was subjected to a body search.Flares were let off in the ground.Bottles had their tops were removed
    Swansea searched a random number of away supporters but none the less flares were set off in the ground.Tops from bottles were removed
    At Newcastle everyone was searched bottle tops werent remoed but you are so far away from the pich it would take a olympic athelete to lob a full bottle onto the pitch.
    As an aside I know of a father of a young lad that goes to and he takes a bottle top in his pocket and simply replaces the one take off at the point of sale.

  • Chris

    Bottle tops are removed so that bottles crush when trodden on, otherwise you’ve got steep steps and a potential roller to stand on. 🙂

  • Sammy The Snake

    Another fruitless season & you’re main worry is about bottle tops. Hmmmmmmm…..

  • aaronz

    @Tony, I was not aware of such activity inside the stadium. I sincerely hope the management take Bayern to task with it, however there are other pressing issues to address i guess.

  • uk

    The stewards are there solely for yhe purpose of confiscating “wenger out” banners

  • bob

    “What are football fans – the great unwashed?”
    Well, now that you put it that way… 🙂

  • okay @Sammy the snake what should we worry about? We are out of the Carling cup or whatever,out of the FA out of the Champions league unless a miracle happens and out of the premier league.
    Though we will be in Champions league next season as always and the rest is history.
    Past is past, we look for the future we are used and waiting anxiously for next season to see if we can win anything.
    Even if we don’t win anything we will wait for another season and come rain or shine one day we will win something.
    I have lost friends,uncles,sisters and relatives cried but we could not bring any of them back,we play for them to rest in peace. But the world goes on so let be patient and time will tell. Our neighbors have gone for 50 years five zero with out wining a league but they say that they are better than us.
    So keep in there and let us wait hope not for long as fifty years.

  • dan

    The board will sell these bottle tops at a profit!

  • TC

    Our normal steward is a happy soul but at the end of the game stands on the exit steps reducing the exit to two people at a squeeze. A happy chap but dumb. I think he is an Arsenal board spy who tries to keep the fans in the stadium just in case they never come back!

    I was not happy against Bayern because the 4 season tickets to my right had all somehow been sold to a bunch of Germans who had an infuriating habit at laughing at every mistake so it was just one long comedy show.

    All in all a shite nite – I do not like visiting supporters anywhere near me as I only see red and white. I intend to ask on my next visit WTF were they doing giving up tickets to visiting fans.

  • Minesy

    Interesting Tony … I sit in Block 111 entering through entrance H and every game I take a bottle of water and most games a small flask of coffee … I have never been asked to remove bottle tops or been in any way stopped by the stewards at the gate despite opening my bag and them being clearly in the bag !!! Maybe you rough types in block 99 are seen as trouble makers !!!

  • Minesy – I always suspected as much.

  • uk

    Rotfl, funniest stuff i read on UA in a long while

  • Rufusstan

    Didn’t see the incidents on Tuesday, so cannot really comment. The regulations at the Ems do drive me nuts though. I can understand them checking us as we go in, but it is taken to ridiculous levels. Being a Red means I move around a lot and it does seem that standards vary.

    Standing obviously is the highlight. Away fans all stand and everyone turns a blind eye. Some home blocks all stand (nothing against that, I’ve been in block 5 and its very cool), yet anywhere else and they’ll throw you out.

  • Rufusstan

    Oh, to pick up on Terry’s point, I know he mentioned the theatre which I can see people seeing as not being comparable but…

    About 4 years ago I went back to Twickenham for the first time in like forever. Not an international, but one of their club double headers.

    Anyway, my brother and I took our beers to our block, thinking we could at least see where we were sitting from the entrance. The punchline is of course the steward waved us in and seemed surprised at the very thought of banning us from drinking in our seats.

    Naturally we took a in couple of pints each to keep us fueled for the first game, and no one blinked an eye.

    Sadly, the authorities see all football fans as complete monsters who cannot be trusted one inch.

  • Fans should maintain discipline..even if the game is not favoring them… it’s a good show of maturity.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I suppose the old adage , ‘Football being a game for gentlemen played by ruffians ,while rugby is a game for ruffians played by gentlemen ‘ applies to their respective fans too ?

  • The font

    Poppycock too much emotion in football do you think none of them plastic bottles with lids on would have been thrown when adebayor scored