Fans clash ahead of Frankfurt-West Ham and Marseille-Feyenoord

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — More than 30 arrests have been made after supporters of English club West Ham and local team Eintracht Frankfurt clashed ahead of their Europa League game, police said Thursday.

Frankfurt police said in a statement that they had to intervene “in several places” the night before because of fights between rival supporters or because fans “wanted to fight”. Police said they stopped a major altercation around the main train station.

According to police, up to 1,000 visiting fans “including fans considered to be at risk” were registered ahead of the game.

“Groups of rival supporters continued to seek violent clashes, which the police prevented by intervening quickly, particularly in the station area. Despite this, there have been physical attacks elsewhere,” the statement read, referring to an attack carried out by Frankfurt supporters which left two visiting supporters unconscious. Both men had to be hospitalized due to their injuries.

Other altercations included an attack by a larger group of Frankfurt fans on West Ham supporters in a pub, in which baseball bats were used.

Frankfurt hosted West Ham for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday. Frankfurt led 2-1 in the first leg.

There were also violent clashes in France between Marseille and Feyenoord supporters outside the Stade Vélodrome ahead of the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final.

One video showed a seemingly unconscious Marseille on the ground as they were helped by other supporters, another showed two groups charging in shortly before kick-off just outside the stadium.

This latest incident in the French seaport follows violent clashes between supporters of Marseille and Greek club PAOK last month.

Although the Marseille police headquarters said on Wednesday that all Feyenoord supporters were banned from entering the city center until Thursday, many had arrived on Wednesday and were drinking in the tourist area of ​​the Old Port.

Marseille soccer fans light up during the Europa Conference League semi-final, second leg soccer match between Olympique de Marseille and Feyenoord at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southern France, on Thursday 5 May 2022.

The prefecture said there were 20 arrests following sporadic fighting around the port and its surrounding streets on Wednesday evening and later that night.

Around 3,000 Feyenoord fans had tickets to the match, but police had expected more than 1,000 arrivals without tickets on Thursday. The game was considered high risk and the police presence was increased. Large groups of Feyenoord supporters were transported to the stadium in specially designated buses.

After violent incidents between PAOK and Marseille, where opposing groups of supporters threw firecrackers at each other during the game, UEFA closed one end of the Stade Velodrome for visiting Feyenoord on Thursday. The section behind one of the goals contains around 13,000 home supporters and was located next to the away section.

Feyenoord has one of the most active hooligan elements in Dutch football. Feyenoord hooligans were reportedly among those who clashed heavily with Dutch police in Rotterdam during a riot against coronavirus restrictions in November.

The match began with a thick cloud of smoke hanging over the stadium as Marseille fans lit flares in a pyrotechnic display behind the goal.

There was an incident during the second half when riot police moved in to form a shield in front of some Feyenoord fans after throwing flares onto the pitch.

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