Arsenal and Cologne Europa League clash marred by crowd safety concerns

Sport360 staff 11:45 14/09/2017
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Police said they were dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium after kick-off in the Europa League match between Arsenal and Cologne in London had been delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Thousands of ticketless fans of the German club arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground as police and stewards tried to ease the congestion in the surrounding streets.

Sky Sports reported incidents of “minor scuffles” while a statement issued by London’s Metropolitan Police said: “Officers are dealing with disorder at the Emirates Stadium where fans have gathered for the Arsenal vs FC Koln match.

“A policing plan is in place for the game. Additional officers have been deployed.”

A match scheduled to start at 8:05pm local time (1905 GMT) was pushed back to 9:05pm (2005 GMT) instead.

“The kick-off of #AFCvCOL has been delayed by an hour in the interests of crowd safety,” said north London club Arsenal’s Twitter feed.

Earlier reports suggested as many as 20,000 Cologne fans had gathered in London just hours before Thursday’s kick-off despite only 3,000 tickets being made available to away supporters.

Posts on social media sites showed large numbers of Cologne fans singing and marching around Oxford Circus in central London.

Meanwhile Arsenal issued a statement on their website warning travelling fans they risked being kicked out of the ground if they bought tickets in the sections of the Emirates reserved for home supporters.

“Please note visiting supporters that purchase a ticket in the home end for this fixture are likely to be ejected from the stadium,” the statement said.

Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga table, having lost all three of their opening games in this season’s German top flight.

But they qualified for the Europa League after finishing fifth last term.

Cologne coach Peter Stoeger, asked on the eve of the Group H opener if he had a message for the thousands of travelling fans, replied: “Enjoy the pubs!”

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