By Tony Attwood
The Europa League games are part of the season ticket package, although the three group-stage home matches clearly don’t excite everyone who has paid their money in advance. Some put their seat up for sale via the notoriously unhelpful club re-sell programme, some were turfed out of their seats and made to sit elsewhere because Uefa officialdom demand a good view, and some of us travel from near and far in the hope of watching a good match.
I was there, but the game itself is not what I take away from yesterday evening. Rather it was the behaviour of the Zurich fans and the complete inability of Arsenal to cope with them. Did no one have any idea that there might be some away support there? Did no one think that they might bring in vast numbers of flares and other pyrotechnics? Come to that who decided it was ok for them to bring an array of drums in (although those only assailed our ears not the physical safety of a lot of people in the stadium).
In one sense those away fans were doing a good job for their team, making an incredible amount of noise throughout the whole event, and of course I have no idea if any of them were hurt, but one thing is sure it was incredibly dangerous, and security broke down totally.
In fact, here’s a simple question. Why am I, a season ticket holder, frisked each time I enter the ground, when the vast number of large flares and pyrotechnic devises were allowed in last night seemingly without let or hindrance last night?
Was it maybe that no one noticed that tickets for the away section had been sold? Did no one bother to read reviews of what matches are like at Zurich’s own stadium. “There was a strong and extremely off-putting drug smell at the stadium from some of the fans – only during the match,” is just one example comment.
And if you think I am being a bit of a fuddy-duddy in my old age, do take a look at the video above. And when you have done that have a look at the video below – this was before the match between Zurich and PSV.
So what were Arsenal’s security team playing at? The flares and fireworks went on all the way through the game. Does Arsenal security think that the game was well-managed and the whole affair was safe? Do they think no one was in danger?
And I am only talking about what it looked like from my seat in the front row upper tier? (Fortuantely for me the fat cats of Uefa didn’t demand my seat for this match).
There is a complete inability at Arsenal to control the away support and to keep those of us who don’t want to riot and create mayhem, safe. That is not to say I was hurt or suffered in any way but this is not how football should be. Given pictures from the past Zurich should not have been sold tickets, there should have been much more security, and the police should have been involved in and around the ground in case any of their fans got through.
And yes I know that would have meant some law-abiding citizens would not have been able to go, but if that were the case maybe enough publicity would be raised to make Uefa do something for once.
As for the question of whether Arsenal were taken by surprise, you might care to scroll down this article on the official Arsenal site, and look at one of the pictures.
In terms of the football this is how the table looks.
We’ve avoided the next round thankfully, but at the cost of showing the world, there is no security at Arsenal stadium.
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