German Fans Delay Euro Fixture

The Euro League match between Arsenal London and Cologne Football Club started an hour late on Sept. 14, because some 20,000 German supporters congested the streets in front of

AP Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth

Police forces block Cologne supporters outside the Emirates stadium prior to the Europa League group H soccer match between Arsenal and FC Cologne at the Emirates stadium in London Sept. 14.

The hordes of Cologne supporters made the journey to London, knowing that only 2,900 tickets had been allocated to away fans.

Some reportedly managed to get their hands on tickets for the neutral stands, while others bought tickets off of touts.

This resulted in many Cologne fans sitting amidst the Arsenal crowd, which caused no major incidents. Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker said in an interview published on the club’s website that “the atmosphere [once the match started] was actually quite positive because the fans inside the stadium were quite enthusiastic and it was quite fun to play in front of two crowds battling each other. It felt good to be part of that.”

Cologne’s fans were ecstatic since their club hadn’t played a Euro League match in almost 25 years. Budget airline Eurowings had provided extra planes in anticipation. What caused the delay of the match was making sure everybody entering the stadium was in possession of a valid ticket, not so much the commotion in the streets.

Arsene Wenger told the press after the match: “I must say our supporters dealt well with the situation as well and there was no aggravation.” He also said that there were moments when he thought the match wouldn’t go ahead at all and be postponed.

A club statement reads: “The safety of everyone in and around Emirates Stadium is always our paramount consideration. We have a sophisticated control room at the stadium, in which our match day security team work closely with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Service and the London Ambulance Service.

“We are satisfied that the joint decision to delay the match by one hour and play with a 9.05pm kick off was the best and safest option. This was the first time in 20 years of European competition we have had to take such an action.”

The European soccer association UEFA has launched an investigation, and will deal with the case on Sept. 21. Cologne Football Club faces four charges: crowd disturbances, setting off fireworks, throwing of objects and acts of damage.

Arsenal faces one charge because its fans had blocked the stairways in the away supporters’ section.