Following West Ham’s 1-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League semi-final second leg, a distressing scene unfolded as AZ Alkmaar fans attacked the section where West Ham’s friends and family were seated. Several West Ham players, including Michail Antonio and Said Benrahma, attempted to intervene and confront the aggressors.
BBC commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball, who witnessed the incident inside the AFAS Stadion, described the scenes as “awful.” He reported seeing AZ fans clad in dark coats and hoods throwing punches and engaging in clashes. The targeted section housed West Ham’s family members and friends, making the situation deeply concerning.
West Ham manager David Moyes expressed his players’ anger over the incident, particularly as their loved ones were present in that area. Moyes emphasized that the disturbance did not involve West Ham supporters seeking trouble and highlighted the anxiety and worry felt by both players and staff about the safety of their families.
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola emphasized the importance of creating a safe and enjoyable environment for families and friends attending matches, expressing concern for their well-being. Midfielder Pablo Fornals echoed these sentiments, expressing worry for the West Ham family and hoping for a swift resolution by the authorities.
This incident follows a confrontation involving family members of AZ players during the first leg at London Stadium last week, further escalating tensions between the two sets of supporters.
As West Ham celebrates their first major European final appearance since 1976, the focus now turns to the security and management of the upcoming match in Prague. With the venue’s limited capacity and a high demand for tickets, concerns arise about crowd management and ensuring adequate security measures are in place to guarantee a safe environment for all attendees.
The incident at the AZ Alkmaar match serves as a stark reminder of the need to prioritize fan safety and prevent such incidents from tarnishing the joyous moments in football.