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Police make 39 arrests as violence mars Aston Villa’s win over Legia Warsaw

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West Midlands Police have made 39 arrests after violence prevented Legia Warsaw fans from being allowed into Thursday’s 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Missiles were thrown at police outside Villa Park, with four officers injured in what the force called “disgusting and highly dangerous scenes”.

Police said the trouble began when the visiting club did not distribute match tickets to around 1,000 of their travelling fans outside the stadium an hour before the game, as had been anticipated.

Kick-off was not delayed but no away fans were permitted into the stadium, as Unai Emery’s team clinched a 2-1 win to leapfrog Legia at the top of Group E.

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Villa subsequently released a statement accusing Legia of failing to cooperate on safety measures and said ticketless fans had attempted to enter the stadium.

The club said: “In spite of numerous requests for cooperation from Legia Warsaw concerning their travelling supporters, especially in the last two days, no assistance on the serious safety matter of away fans attending Villa Park was forthcoming from the visiting club.

“The club has repeatedly raised concerns in conjunction with UEFA and all the relevant authorities to Legia that ticketless away supporters were attempting to attend Villa Park.”

Crowd trouble also marred Legia’s first away game in the Europa Conference League group stage this season, with a number of Dutch police officers injured at their 1-0 defeat to AZ Alkmaar in October.

That led Villa to reduce the away allocation for Thursday’s game to 1,002 tickets, while UEFA also barred Legia fans from attending their second away game, a 2-1 win at Zrinjski Mostar.

Chief inspector Tim Robinson of West Midlands Police said: “This should have been a great evening of football which was enjoyed by fans from both clubs.

“Unfortunately, there were appalling scenes which saw away fans dangerously throw flares and other missiles at our officers.

“We were there to help keep people safe, yet officers’ own safety was put at risk because of the deplorable actions of others.

“Due to the extreme violence, there was no other choice but to prevent away fans entering the stadium. The safety of everyone is our priority, and clearly we had no other option.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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