Belfast Telegraph

Europa League: Four arrests after thousands of Cologne fans arrive ahead of Arsenal match

Four people have been arrested on suspicion of public order offences at the Emirates Stadium after thousands of Cologne fans turned up ahead of a match against Arsenal.

Extra police were sent to the venue to deal with the disorder and the game was delayed by an hour in the interest of fan safety after huge crowds of Cologne supporters arrived at the ground.

Cologne fans were clearly visible in home sections all around the stadium, and a video posted on social media appeared to show fans fighting with stewards in the stands before kick-off. 

The Metropolitan Police said: "Officers responded to reports of disorder at the Emirates Stadium earlier this evening where fans gathered for the Arsenal vs FC Koln match.

"A policing plan is in place for the game and additional officers were deployed.

"Arrests at 21.41hrs = four people have been arrested on suspicion of public order offences."

Ahead of the match, which was due to begin at 8.05pm, there were many more fans than could be accommodated in the away end, and the chaos meant fans with tickets were unable to get into the ground.

A video posted on Twitter appears to show Cologne fans singing loudly in Arsenal's home section of the stadium, while another appears to show overturned barriers and fans trying to push forwards outside the ground. 

As a helicopter hovered overhead, police formed a line in a bid to hold back the crowds of fans. 

Supporters were searched on the way in by a strong line-up of stewards at each of the entrances, while several police vans could be seen outside the stadium along with teams of uniformed officers.

Arsenal supporter, and ITV's political editor, Robert Peston tweeted: "These Cologne fans are a disgrace. Nazi salutes. Peeing in doorsteps. My European solidarity being tested."

Stewards inside the ground were attempting to remove away supporters seated outside the allocated area.

More than a dozen police officers wearing helmets could be seen entering the ground at the east stand as the game kicked off.

Riot police with shields and helmets could also be seen sitting outside the stadium at the Clock End after the match started.

Earlier on Thursday, Cologne supporters arrived in central London as thousands of fans of the Bundesliga side were expected in the capital despite only 3,000 tickets being available.

Social media posts showed hordes of supporters singing and marching around Oxford Circus hours before the scheduled kick-off.

Ahead of the delay, Arsenal's official website warned Cologne fans they faced being asked to leave the stadium if they purchased tickets in the home sections of the ground.

''Please note visiting supporters that purchase a ticket in the home end for this fixture are likely to be ejected from the stadium,'' a statement on the website read. 

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