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Dozens Of Men Charged After Villa Park Clashes

The ugly scenes, during which flares and missiles were thrown at police before kickoff, left five officers injured.


Stadium staff prepare the pitch ahead of the UEFA Europa Conference League Group A football match between NK Olimpija Ljubljana and LOSC Lille at the Stadium Stozice in Ljubljana on November 30, 2023.
Stadium staff prepare the pitch ahead of the UEFA Europa Conference League Group A football match between NK Olimpija Ljubljana and LOSC Lille at the Stadium Stozice in Ljubljana on November 30, 2023. (Photo by Jure Makovec / AFP)

 

Dozens of men were due in court in Birmingham after English police said Saturday they had been charged over participating in “major disorder” before Legia Warsaw’s Europa Conference League game at Aston Villa.

All but one of the 46 charged in the aftermath of Thursday’s violence were set to appear before a special court on Saturday, West Midlands Police said.

The ugly scenes, during which flares and missiles were thrown at police before kickoff, left five officers injured.

Police said 43 of those arrested had been charged with public order offences, while two were charged with assaulting police officers and another has been charged with possession of a knife.

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They are aged between 21 and 63, with around 40 believed to be from Poland and a “small number” thought to be UK residents, the West Midlands force added.

Officers are reviewing CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects involved in what police called “appalling and violent public disorder”.

Two police dogs and two police horses were also injured.

“Our investigation is very much continuing and we’ll be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses over the coming days,” said Detective Superintendent Jim Munro, who is overseeing the criminal investigation.

Villa had reduced Legia’s ticket allocation over fears of a repeat of previous crowd trouble at a match involving the club earlier this season.

The English club have accused the Polish club of a “complete lack of cooperation” with themselves, the police and European governing body UEFA.

Although the game started on time, no Legia fans were allowed inside the stadium on police advice.

Villa have made an official complaint to UEFA over the violence.

But in the latest in a series of statements blaming the English club and local authorities, Legia insisted Saturday that none of those arrested had tickets for the match.

“No club should be held accountable for the actions of unidentified individuals without tickets for the match,” it said.

Legia added that it had “repeatedly informed” English counterparts about security measures required but that police failed to implement them.

“By disregarding our constructive feedback, the host club bears full responsibility for the situation,” Legia said.

AFP