Were Cologne fans out of order at Arsenal?
Five arrests were made over the course of the evening.
Arsenal’s opening Europa League game resulted in a 3-1 win against Bundesliga side Cologne, but the debate after the game was not about the football, rather the presence of thousands of Cologne fans that the Emirates Stadium struggled to accommodate.
Kick-off was delayed by an hour, as ticketless Cologne fans looked to gain entry to the ground – the visitors were issued with 3,000 tickets, but around 20,000 Cologne fans are believed to have made the journey to London.
The hours before the game had seen thousands of the Bundesliga club’s fans walking through London ahead of the Group H fixture.
Guardian writer Barney Ronay reported that there had been “scuffles among the visiting fans” as well as intermittent fighting with stewards in the delay before kick-off
Furthermore, issues persisted with reports of large numbers of Cologne fans in the home end, and stories of how they’d managed to get in circulating.
There are an awful lot of Koln fans in among the home supporters.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) September 14, 2017
Some Cologne fans near us spoke of how they signed up as Red Members, bought tickets and even purchased home shirts from the Armoury.— FK ☕️🏴 (@fkhanage) September 14, 2017
Five arrests were made over the course of the evening, and Arsenal issued a statement on Friday insisting the safety of supporters was the main concern at the time.
Meanwhile, both clubs now face disciplinary charges from governing body Uefa – which include crowd disturbances, setting off fireworks, throwing of objects and acts of damage by Cologne fans, while Arsenal face a probe for “stairways blocked in away supporter sector”.
Some condemned the Bundesliga club’s fans for their part in a chaotic night.
Cologne fans storming the gates, Cologne fans storming police cordons, Cologne fans hitting stewards to get into away end. Bad night.— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) September 14, 2017
If you want to make last night about a lack of proper/passionate AFC supporters at the Emirates,then that's a train I was on a long time ago— Alan Alger (@Alan_Alger_) September 15, 2017
...But there were Cologne fans - yes a minority - that were OTT last night and they're lucky there was only five arrests.— Alan Alger (@Alan_Alger_) September 15, 2017
Others pointed both to the good and the bad of the evening.
I came away with mixed feelings. Good - so many Koln fans (most just having fun). Bad - chaotic to manage (at times nasty for AFC fans).— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) September 15, 2017
Have a lot of sympathy for those who didn't have a nice night, although in the end many enjoyed a good game safely.— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) September 15, 2017
And Arsene Wenger had this to say on the presence of away fans in home sections.
Wenger on Cologne fans: "They were very clever. I don't know how they were able to infiltrate into our fans but they did it very well."— James Olley (@JamesOlley) September 14, 2017
Freelance sports reporter Archie Rhind-Tutt wrote of the culture of fan mingling in the Bundesliga, in an eye-opening Twitter thread on the subject.
Know Köln fans who didn't realise this was different in England. When they found out, didn't wear shirts to stadium + bought Arsenal scarves— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) September 15, 2017
Meanwhile, others pointed to the real issue being the effects of crowd segregation at football matches.
We won't, like. But the Emirates - which would have had empty seats tonight - could have embraced Cologne fans. Most just want fun— Tony Evans (@TonyEvans92a) September 14, 2017
Clearly there was good and bad in evidence in the crowd, but the incidents that occurred at the Emirates Stadium were perhaps the thin end of a complex wedge.