Aug 20 2010

Slovan v Stuttgart marred by violence

Published by at 9:29 am under European and tagged: , , , , ,

Slovan Bratislava’s Europa League match against VFB Stuttgart has been marred by violence on the terraces.  The referee had to take the players off the field a few minutes before half time as Slovan fans entered the visitors sector creating havoc throwing fireworks, plastic chairs and anything they could get their hands on.  The security inside the stadium couldn’t control the rampaging hooligans and it was a few minutes before the riot police were called in and restored some semblance of order.

Violence at Pasienky

Violence at Pasienky

It seems like all the hard work and extra security measures succesfully implemented in the previous round against Crvena Zvezda Belgrade gave organisers a false sense of security ahead of the Stuttgart match which was designated with a lower risk factor by UEFA.  Reports are of a lack of control outside the stadium before the match, with scuffles breaking out all over town.  In a video shot by Stuttgart fans a fan can be heard saying “you wouldn’t see this if you were walking the streets of Afghanistan” in reference to the lines of fully geared up riot police.

The policy at this match was that the club’s own security should maintain the peace inside the stadium and only if things got out of control would the riot police be called in.  As it happens the police were on standby in front of the stadium and this gave the hooligans several minutes for their rampage creating ugly scenes on the terraces which will inevitably have serious consequences for Slovan Bratislava in Europe.  This is not altogether surprising for me, as I was standing in that area of the stadium for the Zvezda match.  After there was no serious trouble at that game I had a feeling certain members of the crowd were left with a sense of anti-climax.  The club, who would have been dreaming of Europa League qualification and hosting more high-profile teams in Bratislava now face a minimum punishment of a hefty fine from UEFA for failing to control their fans.  This is disastrous for Slovan and the optimism created by MSK Zilina as far as the Slovak club game is concerned appears to be something of an exception, and the harsh reality of life on the terraces has unfortunately once again come to light here at Pasienky.

The scenes, which can be seen here or here leave me with a sense of sympathy for the Stuttgart fans seen literally fleeing for their lives away from the flash point.  Having fireworks landing on your head is not what most fans hope for on European away days to the beautiful cities of Europe.  Once again what this demonstrates is the total substandard nature of Pasienky stadium, together with the lack of experience of the organisers when things get out of hand.  I will follow up with another article after reading reaction from both sides once the dust has settled, also it will be interesting to see how UEFA punish Slovan.  My honest feeling here is that UEFA would be better served trying to help Slovan in their quest for a new stadium, rather than landing a hefty fine on the club which will only make matters worse.  The stadium in Bratislava is also urgently needed for international matches.  This is the sad side of Eastern European football and makes you realise how far behind the big leagues these clubs have fallen.

As far as the match is concerned, Stuttgart scored in the 88th minute to give themselves a surely unasailable advantage ahead of the return leg in Germany next Thursday.  Obviously the German police will be prepared following these scenes, one just hopes that there isn’t more violence which could further damage the club.

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