Legia Warsaw fans appear in UK court over violence before Aston Villa match

Police file charges against 46 people over unrest outside the stadium as Villa and Legia trade blame.

Fans and police officers clash
Five police officers were injured in clashes with fans outside Villa Park on November 30, 2023 [Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters]

British police say 46 men have been charged after “serious disorder outside” Villa Park in the build-up to a Europa Conference League football match in which authorities said five officers were injured.

“Of those, 43 have been charged with a public order offence, while two have been charged with assaulting police officers and another has been charged with possession of a knife,” West Midland’s Police said in a statement on Saturday.

The unrest occurred on Thursday ahead of kickoff in a game between Aston Villa and Legia Warsaw. Villa won the match 2-1.

Five police officers sustained minor injuries. Two police dogs and two police horses are also recovering from injuries.

“Those charged are aged between 21 and 63, and around 40 are believed to be from Poland. A small number are believed to be UK residents,” West Midland’s Police said.

Police said all apart from one of the men were due in court on Saturday, and a special court had been set up at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court to begin hearing the cases on Saturday morning.

Legia Warsaw fans let off flares as they clash with police officers
Legia Warsaw fans let off flares as they clash with police officers outside Villa Park [Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters]

On Friday, Aston Villa filed a complaint with UEFA over the conduct of Legia Warsaw officials and the “unprecedented violence” of the Polish team’s fans.

More than 1,000 Polish fans arrived at the stadium but were not given their tickets.

The Warsaw club had been upset that local officials who license all stadium events required the ticket allocation be reduced from 1,700 to 1,000 in response to disorder by Legia fans at a game against AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands on October 5.

“Due to the inability to authenticate and distribute tickets effectively, Legia Warsaw returned the tickets to the host club,” Legia Warsaw said in a statement on Saturday.

“We emphasise that none of the individuals detained by the police had tickets for the match. Therefore, we strongly object to Legia Warsaw being blamed for Thursday’s incidents in Birmingham.”

In Friday’s statement, Villa said Legia Warsaw had been informed of the ticket allocation details four weeks before the match, adding that the Polish team’s officials had refused to confirm if they would accept their allocation until 4pm on Thursday.

Source: News Agencies