Villa Park- Forty-six men charged after officers hurt in clashes

Forty-six men have been charged after violence broke out before an Aston Villa game against Legia Warsaw.

Five police officers were injured in clashes with away fans near Villa Park in Birmingham on Thursday night.

Of the 46 men charged, 43 have been charged with a public order offence, West Midlands Police said.

A total of 45 of those who have been charged are due to appear later before a special court set up at Birmingham Magistrates.

Two of the men have been charged with assaulting police officers, with one also accused of possessing a knife.

Police said the men charged were aged between 21 and 63, with 40 believed to be from Poland and a small number thought to be UK residents.

Villa fans said “all hell broke loose” outside Villa Park before the club’s European Conference League fixture against the Polish team.

General view of the debris outside the stadium after the pre-match disturbances with the Legia Warsaw fans
Flares were thrown outside the stadium in incidents of violence near Villa Park

The arrests were made after violence erupted during a row over what police and Villa said was Legia Warsaw officials’ mishandling of the distribution of up to 1,000 tickets to away supporters for the match.

In a statement on Friday night, Villa confirmed it had lodged a complaint with Uefa over the club officials’ “complete lack of co-operation” before the game.

However, Legia Warsaw officials said they “strongly” objected to being blamed for sparking the violence through the ticket row.

‘Appalling disorder’

Two officers from West Midlands Police, two from the West Mercia force and one from Derbyshire were all hurt in the clashes, with one hit by a burning flare.

Two police dogs and two horses were also injured but were recovering, police said.

The West Midlands force said it was continuing to review CCTV and body-worn footage in what it described as an “appalling and violent public disorder.”

“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,” added Det Sup Jim Munro.

Police clashing with football fans
Legia Warsaw fans were stopped from entering the stadium over safety fears

In the wake of the violence, Legia Warsaw said: “We emphasise that none of the individuals detained by the police had tickets for [the] match.”

Despite Villa officials’ saying the club had been uncooperative, Legia officials said they had “maintained continuous communication” with Villa, Uefa and the police about “necessary measures” for the security of the venue and the surrounding area.

“Despite this, the British police, in their official responses, only acknowledged the potential risks without implementing our suggestions,” a spokesperson said.

“Regrettably, due to the actions and inactions of Aston Villa FC, adverse incidents occurred.

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

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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