Statement match AZ Alkmaar -Legia Warsaw (English version)
The police, the Public Prosecution Service, the municipality of Alkmaar, and AZ Alkmaar strongly condemn the actions of Legia Warsaw last night. Prearranged agreements were violated, and both the supporters and players of the club misbehaved. Investigations into the events have been initiated.
Leading up to the match, agreements between the Dutch police, the police of Warsaw and Legia were made about how Legia supporters could attend the game. Due to the festivities in the Alkmaar city centre in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Siege of Alkmaar, it was not possible to receive visiting fans in the city. It was agreed beforehand that the visiting fans could exchange a voucher issued in Poland at ADO Den Haag’s stadium for the match. These agreements were also confirmed in writing by all parties. During the security meeting with UEFA on the eve of the match, it became clear that Legia Warsaw was not adhering to these agreements. Only a limited number of visiting supporters made use of this arrangement, while the rest of the visitors independently made their way to the stadium in Alkmaar. As a result, the mayor of Alkmaar designated the area around Alkmaar station and the stadium of AZ as a safety risk zone in the afternoon. This decision was also influenced by the discovery of fireworks and information indicating that Legia supporters were possession of more extreme fireworks. This meant that preventive body searches could be conducted in this area.
The storming of the visitor’s section
Before the match, there was unrest at the stadium entrance to the away section. Legia Warsaw supporters stormed the entrance gate. Unfortunately, the Dutch mobile unit police could not prevent this due to the intense violence directed at stewards and police officers. During this action, one mobile unit police officer lost consciousness, while two others sustained minor injuries but were able to continue their duties. The injured colleague who lost consciousness was unable to continue working after receiving medical treatment. Tear gas was used to protect the safety of both the stewards and the police officers. During the storming, Legia supporters took several batons and cans of pepper spray from the mobile unit police. In consultation with AZ Alkmaar and UEFA, the authorities discussed multiple scenarios due to the situation that had arisen. The preference of the authorities was to evacuate the visitor’s section, but the level of violence from Legia Warsaw supporters required a further scale up by the police to do so safely, which was not feasible. Throughout the match, the authorities continuously monitored the safety of visitors, stewards, police, and players. The police, the Public Prosecution Service, the municipality of Alkmaar, and AZ Alkmaar take this serious incident incredibly seriously. The police are conducting an investigation to identify those responsible for the violence against police officers and stewards. Individuals with information and/or footage of the incidents are strongly encouraged to contact the police.
Mayor Anja Schouten: “Supporters who use excessive and unacceptable violence against police and stewards are not welcome in our city. We are working with involved parties to determine whether and how we can exclude visitors with such a risk profile from European matches.”
Police Chief of the North Holland unit Hamit Karakus: “The police are here to ensure the smooth progress of a match that many people enjoy. It’s terrible when colleagues are injured. I want to express my support to the injured colleagues. We are investigating who is responsible for these serious disturbances, which I take very seriously. It has become clear that Legia Warsaw has proven to be an unreliable partner and did not honour their agreements. It would be commendable for the Polish authorities to wish our colleagues well and assist in identifying suspects, rather than criticising our actions. This heavy violence against police officers is unacceptable and strongly condemned by me.”
After the match
After the match, two players from Legia Warsaw injured AZ staff members in the main building of the AZ stadium to such an extent that medical attention was required. The players have been arrested and are suspected of assault. The main building was locked down, and Legia’s team bus could not leave the parking lot because the departure of Legia supporters was still in progress. Consequently, the players were kept inside the stadium for their own safety. Some players and officials apparently disagreed with this and used violence. There are social media posts circulating showing mobile unit police surrounding the team bus. They were there to protect and extract the two suspected players from the bus, as they had already boarded it. Chief Public Prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer: “The decision of the Public Prosecution Service to arrest the players was not made in a whim. It was discussed with the police in advance. These are suspects of serious criminal offenses, which the Public Prosecution Service will carefully assess, as in any case.”
Polish media are portraying that the players were victims of police action, but this is not the case. It was the players who used violence. An arrest is a serious measure, and the police do not take it lightly, especially with players after an international match.
All events from last night will be evaluated by all parties involved.
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