Koln blamed Thursday’s Europa League fracas on a small police force and a lack of preparation, while condemning supporters who threatened and attacked stewards and police officers at Arsenal‘s Emirates Stadium.
In a carefully-worded response to the chaotic scenes in north London, the German side criticised organisers for failing to “adequately prepare for the task” and lamented the “horrendous” costs some of its fans had to pay just to get inside the stadium.
Related: Arsenal-Koln fracas draws UEFA probe
Around 20,000 supporters – many without tickets – ended up making the trip to England’s capital for Koln’s first European encounter in 25 years. Officials decided to delay kick-off by more than an hour to ensure crowd safety.
Contrary to unfounded claims of Nazi salutes and excessive violence, however, Koln emphasised that the vast majority of supporters represented the club and German football as a whole “happily and positively.” Fans who managed to get seats in other sections of the stadium also managed to behave themselves.
The rest of the statement read:
Despite 1. FC Koln and Arsenal FC urging fans to purchase tickets only through official channels and not to enter any sections other than the guest section wearing FC merchandise, the situation before the match showed FC fans lining up in various sections to enter the stadium. And also despite the tremendous experience of both the London security forces and Arsenal as a permanent partaker in European football, the organizers were unfortunately not adequately prepared for the task. In our view, the security concept and communication seemed inadequate and the police force too small.
The most important common goal of having the match played on the same evening was achieved by allowing fans with valid tickets to quickly take their seats. This procedure proved to be the correct decision. Finally, the course of the match showed that the mixing of home and away fans did not constitute a safety risk for this match.
1. FC Koln will intensively evaluate and work together with Arsenal FC, the security forces, and the representatives of UEFA to discuss what measures need to be taken to prevent such things, such as the shifted kick-off time, in the future.
That said, 1. FC Koln would like to unmistakably make it clear that there is no excuse or justification for the fact that a group of so-called disturbers threatened, insulted, and even attacked stewards and police officers without cause. We distance ourselves from this explicitly. These people are solely responsible for the fact that a football match with a special meaning for an entire region, as well as the courageous effort of our team on the pitch, had to be overshadowed by scenes that had nothing to do with sport and fair play. Although 1. FC Koln is not responsible for the acts of these so-called disturbers, we ask our English hosts to accept our apology.
UEFA charged both clubs Friday, with a verdict set to be delivered Sept. 21.