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UEFA to bring charges against Arsenal and Koln over crowd trouble

Arsenal FC v 1. FC Koeln - UEFA Europa League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Now that the dust has settled from yesterday’s chaos, where actions taken by an undetermined number of Koln fans led to their Europa League match at the Emirates, won 3-1 by Arsenal, to be delayed an hour, UEFA has opened procedings to lay charges against the offending bodies. Which, they’ve determined, is both Arsenal and FC Koln:

An estimated 20,000 Koln fans descended on the Emirates despite only 3,000 tickets being allotted to the away fans but apparently that wasn’t going to stop them. Actions ranging from buying up home tickets with freshly paid for red memberships, wearing home jerseys, and storming the gates have been reported. With dueling reports of fan scuffles and Arsenal barring the gates, it’s enough for UEFA to form a disciplinary committee, to address the issues above next Thursday.

Whose side they come down on harder isn’t exactly clear. UEFA rules state that the host club is "responsible for order and security both inside and around the stadium before, during and after matches” and "liable for incidents of any kind... unless they can prove that they have not been negligent in any way in the organisation of the match." Meanwhile, clubs are also liable for the behaviour of their supporters, home or away. On what level Arsenal are required to prevent Koln fans from masquerading as Arsenal fans to snap up tickets it couldn’t sell to Arsenal fans will be an interesting discussion.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have put out a statement on yesterday’s problems and promised an investigation of their own. Their defense is straight forward: we complied with rules and did our best to control the situation, but we’ll try to ensure this doesn’t happen again. What changes this brings about, remains to be seen.

FC Koln also released a statment, pointing fingers at the small allotment of tickets offered them, incapabilities of Emirates security but made clear that this was no excuse for their fans’ behaviour.

Likely outcome will be a slap on the wrist and a tightening of ticket sales, rather than any major punishment, but will be a cautionary tale going forward. Of course, none of this would be a problem if we could trust supporters of different clubs to get along should they be seated beside one another, meaning should a home team not sell all its tickets, they’d be able to give fortunate visiting fans and neutrals a chance to see a decent game. But I digress.