Villa Park trouble: 46 away supporters charged after 'violent' disorder erupted from Polish Legia Warsaw fans
A total of 46 men have been charged after serious disorder erupted on Thursday night (30 November) involving Legia Warsaw fans outside Villa Park football stadium in Birmingham. Aston Villa FC were playing Poland's Legia Warszawa in the Europa Conference League at the stadium, and serious clashes happened before the match.
It is believed that the disorder was sparked when tickets were not distributed by the away club to supporters outside the ground, as had been anticipated. Forty-three people have been charged with a public order offence, while two have been charged with assaulting police officers and another has been charged with possession of a knife.
During the disorder four officers were injured, with one taken to hospital, along with two police horses and two police dogs. Police say missiles including flares were thrown towards them. One officer's fluorescent jacket caught fire after they were hit with a flare. Fortunately his jacket was removed quickly and he was not injured. He was later taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after the smoke from the flare made it into his helmet.
Police confirmed that those charged are aged between 21 and 63, and around 40 are believed to be from Poland. A small number are believed to be UK residents. Birmingham Police said that no home fans were arrested and there were no issues from Aston Villa supporters at any point.
West Midlands Police said it is “continuing to review CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects in what was an appalling and violent public disorder.” Det Supt Jim Munro, who is overseeing the criminal investigation, said: “Our investigation is very much continuing and we’ll be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses over the coming days.
"To charge this number of people so soon after such a major disorder has taken a huge effort by staff who have been working around the clock. We’ve had a number of messages of thanks from the club and fans who were present on Thursday night and saw the policing operation first hand, and we are really grateful for that support.”
Assistant Chief Constable Damian Barratt, said: "This was appalling and completely unacceptable disorder. What we saw was 90 minutes of planned violence, with one officer saying it was the worst he had seen in 28 years of policing. Our officers bravely put themselves in harm's way and I would like to commend each and every one of them for their efforts."
UEFA told ITV News Central that it condemns the violence. In a statement it said: "UEFA strongly condemns the unacceptable violence which occurred around the Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw match. UEFA is in the process of gathering all official reports from the game before deciding on potential next steps."