Police injured after clashes with Legia fans at Aston Villa
LONDON, United Kingdom, (AFP) – Aston Villa have condemned the violence that left three police officers injured after Legia Warsaw fans were involved in violent clashes before Thursday’s Europa Conference League game.
Flares and missiles were thrown at police as the Legia fans were held in a coach park near Villa’s stadium.
The game, which Villa won 2-1, started at its scheduled 2000 GMT time, but no Legia fans were allowed into Villa Park ahead of kick-off.
A Birmingham Police statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, read: “We’re currently unable to allow away fans into Villa Park following disorder outside the stadium which has seen missiles thrown at officers.
“Three officers have already been injured and a significant policing operation continues. Please avoid Witton Lane where possible.”
The Polish club had their ticket allocation reduced to just under 1,000 after concerns over potential crowd trouble.
Ticketless Legia fans vowed to travel to Birmingham regardless of the reduced allocation.
“Aston Villa can confirm that no away fans were allowed into Villa Park for this evening’s UEFA Europa Conference League fixture with Legia Warsaw on the advice of West Midlands Police following large-scale disorder outside the stadium caused by visiting supporters,” the Premier League club said in a statement.
“The UK safety authorities, UEFA and Aston Villa, communicated on November 2 that the ticket allocation for away fans for this fixture would be reduced to 1,002 on the advice of safety authorities as a result of previous large-scale disorder caused by Legia fans last month at AZ Alkmaar.
“A number of Dutch police officers were injured during that disorder. As a consequence, UEFA banned Legia supporters from travelling to Mostar for their game against HSK Zrinjski.
“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, including this morning, raised concerns in conjunction with UEFA and all the relevant authorities to Legia that ticketless away supporters were attempting to attend Villa Park.”
Legia supporters were met by a wall of police officers wearing helmets with visors to protect themselves when they marched towards Villa Park.
The flares were let off as they were penned in, sparking the incident that led to the police injuries.
During the match, the section of Villa Park usually reserved for visiting fans was left completely empty, but there was further crowd trouble outside the stadium.
Videos on social media showed a group of Legia fans gathered in a street hurling bottles towards Villa supporters who were looking down on them from inside the ground.
“Aston Villa strongly condemns the behaviour of those visiting supporters and would like to thank West Midlands Police for their professionalism in very difficult circumstances,” the club added.