WATCH: Ugly scenes in the Europa Conference League as families of West Ham players are stormed by furious AZ supporters after their semi-final defeat
- Hammers through to major final
- Fornals on target in the Netherlands
- Home fans ruin the evening
WHAT HAPPENED? The Hammers reached their first continental final since 1976 courtesy of a late Pablo Fornals goal that wrapped up a 3-1 aggregate success. The Premier League outfit will now face Fiorentina in Prague on June 7 with major silverware up for grabs. There were, however, ugly scenes at the end of a keenly-contested fixture in Alkmaar, with disgruntled home fans charging at West Ham supporters. Concerned players, such as midfielder Tomas Soucek, got involved to try and stop the stampede, as the area of the ground housing their friends and families came under threat.
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
THE BIGGER PICTURE: West Ham boss David Moyes said of the unsightly scenes in his post-match press conference: “I can’t explain what happened or why it happened. I can only tell you that players were involved because it was the family section, where most of their family and friends were sat in. I think that is why, seeing friends and family in that area. That was probably the reason for the reaction. What I don’t want in any way is that to blight tonight because it wasn’t the West Ham fans who were looking for trouble. They were happy to celebrate at the end of the game. Hopefully, they will look into and find the reasons why.”
AND WHAT'S MORE: Former Hammers stars Joe Cole, who was on punditry duty in the Netherlands, told BT Sport: “It's absurd. Ridiculous. Grown men. AZ Alkmaar fans attacking the West Ham fans where the families were sitting and our friends and colleagues were sitting. The players know they're there, the players were getting involved trying to break it up. You've got to have a look at UEFA and things like that, and AZ Alkmaar to a certain degree because we had the same incidents in Frankfurt last year: it gets a slap on the wrist. You get AZ Alkmaar fans turning up with balaclavas throwing punches and throwing hands. Football is a family and it should be inclusive for everybody, it was just ridiculous. The players, rightfully so, concerned: families over there, their friends, maybe kids over there. Absolutely ridiculous in the modern game, and the men that turn up and do it: completely and utterly pathetic.”
WHAT NEXT? West Ham’s last outing in a continental final was in the 1976 European Cup Winners’ Cup, when they suffered a 4-2 defeat to Anderlecht.