West Ham’s joy in reaching the final of the Europa Conference League was marred by supporters of AZ Alkmaar confronting friends and family of the visiting players after the final whistle at the AFAS Stadion.
AZ are likely to face punishment from Uefa after the night ended on an unpleasant note. There was chaos when fans of the Dutch side ran to an area housing West Ham officials, sponsors and friends and families of the team.
Saïd Benrahma, Michail Antonio, Aaron Cresswell and Flynn Downes were among the West Ham players who confronted the supporters. David Moyes’s elderly father was in the section that was targeted.
“I can’t explain what happened and why it happened,” Moyes said. “Players were involved because it was the family section. That was probably the reason for the reaction.
“I don’t want that in any way to blight the night because the West Ham fans weren’t looking for trouble. Hopefully they’ll look into it. My family were there and I had friends in that section.
“You’re hoping they would try and get themselves away from it. I didn’t recognise it because I was too happy. Security wanted to take me inside but I had to make sure my players weren’t involved.”
One West Ham fan, who was nearby, said the AZ fans who attacked were wearing black shirts and had their hoods up. He said “they did not get very far” and added that the bigger concern was for young Dutch families who had been caught in between.
Pascal Jansen, AZ’s manager, apologised for the trouble. “I feel ashamed it happened in our stadium. It should not be happening. You have to stay in control of your emotions.”
Moyes was delighted after a late goal from Pablo Fornals saw West Ham win 3-1 on aggregate and reach their first European final since 1976. West Ham will face Fiorentina in Prague on 7 June after the Italians beat Basel last night. “I’m thrilled for the players and everybody at the club,” Moyes said. “We’ve got one more to go to see if we can win. We’ve done a real good job.”
Alphonse Areola, West Ham’s goalkeeper, said he had family in the section that was attacked. “They were a bit far from the incident,” he said. “We were a bit worried about them. Security is the most important thing in a stadium. It was a bit too open for the opposing fans. At the end, they managed to stop them. When families or fans are coming to the stadium we don’t want to see things like that. They want to enjoy the event and we want to enjoy it with them as well. We were worried about them.”