West Ham players brawl as AZ Alkmaar supporters attack - and one Hammers fan keeps dozens at bay
West Ham United made their way through to the Europa Conference League final on Thursday night, but the post-match scenes were not the ones Hammers fans would have been hoping for.
David Moyes’ team won 1-0 on the night to knock AZ Alkmaar out 3-1 on aggregate, but as celebrations began, a succession of home supporters appeared to scale barriers and steps towards the area of the stadium where West Ham fans and player relatives were congregated.
While stewards and security were on the scene, Hammers players were compelled to intervene too as dozens of AZ fans descended on that area of the stands.
A host of video footage shows different players involved in the brawls, with one showing Lucas Paqueta and Said Benrahma throwing punches and pushing in chaotic scenes.
Paqueta, Downes and Benny scrapping pic.twitter.com/F9QQzYiSDB
— COYIrons (@COYIronscom) May 18, 2023
In another, longer video, several players are seen climbing back and forth over the hoardings to separate supporters trying to push their way through, with stewards appearing to do little to remove them from that area.
Hammers skipper Declan Rice can be seen throwing an object at one point, with Angelo Ogbonna also wading in and Jarrod Bowen standing on the hoardings.
Absolutely incredible scenes at full time, as AZ Alkmaar “fans” stormed the hospitality section where players’ friends and family were, with even players become involved in the brawls pic.twitter.com/uSpCPC66Ll
— Andy Robinson (@AndyPlaytonic) May 18, 2023
From another angle, two West Ham supporters are also seen stood at the top of some stairs which reportedly led to where players’ families were seated, with one fan in particular - referred to as ‘Knollsy’ on social media - repeatedly repelling those who tried to climb the steps to that area.
The brutal scenes reflect badly on the supporters and stadium management, as well as the lack of reaction by security in that area of the ground. Uefa is set to review reports and footage of the incidents. Dutch police stated no arrests had been made, the BBC reported.
West Ham fan "Knollsy" protecting the family stand and fending off AZ ultras
— West Ham Central (@WestHam_Central) May 19, 2023
“We’ll need to wait for the dust to settle to see what it is, but the biggest problem is that is the area where the players have all their families in,” manager David Moyes said. “That is where the problem came, and a lot of players were getting angry because they couldn’t get to see if they were OK. What I don’t want to do in any way is blight our night. It wasn’t West Ham supporters looking for trouble.
“Was I worried? Yeah, my family were there and I had friends in that section. You’re hoping they would try to get themselves away from it. Security wanted to take me inside, but I had to make sure my players weren’t involved.”
“I was really concerned about how the family of my teammates and the West Ham family are,” goalscorer Pablo Fornals added. “Hopefully everyone is OK and the police can do their job and realise who did it. It’s not great when you are in that beautiful moment and people who aren’t try to use violence against you.”
In the other semi-final, Fiorentina saw off Basel 3-1 to win 4-3 on aggregate. The Hammers will play Fiorentina in the final on Wednesday 7 June, with the game taking place at the Fortuna Arena in Prague.