Thursday 20 September 2018

Chelsea fans prepare to submit evidence after reports they were hit by batton-wielding police

Chelsea lost 3-0 at the Nou Camp but their fans had problems outside of the ground. Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters
Chelsea lost 3-0 at the Nou Camp but their fans had problems outside of the ground. Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters

Chelsea and supporters groups are gathering information and preparing to lobby UEFA after reports of fans being struck by baton-wielding stewards and police in Barcelona on Wednesday night.

Videos and posts on social media alleged heavy-handed shepherding of visiting supporters before and after the last-16 second leg at the Nou Camp, which Chelsea lost 3-0 to exit the Champions League 4-1 on aggregate.

Chelsea, the Chelsea Supporters' Trust (CST), Football Supporters' Federation and Football Supporters Europe are gathering evidence and appealing for information in the wake of the alleged incidents.

UEFA say it is in the process of compiling reports on the matter and in touch with its disciplinary department.

CST chairman David Chidgey, who did not attend Wednesday's match due to work commitments, has been dealing with the aftermath of the incidents which, he says, are all too familiar.

Chidgey told Press Association Sport: "A lot of people do get cynical saying 'nothing changes' and I'm afraid the evidence is there for all to see.

"If we can put together a decent case and the club take that to UEFA, backed by the supporter organisations, something might actually register with UEFA.

"We're talking about Barcelona or Spanish police and stewards. If UEFA pressurise them then maybe something will change. Clearly that has to happen.

"The club take it seriously and we work as closely with them as we can to get the evidence to them and support them."

The evidence gathering will also assess the behaviour of the Chelsea supporters who travelled to Barcelona.

Chidgey added: "With 5,000 supporters you're always going to get a few idiots. The trouble is when the police and stewards pile in, it's usually the innocent that get hit.

"It seems a lot of the stewards were armed with batons and were indiscriminately whacking Chelsea supporters for some reason.

"My understanding is a lot of them were women, children, elderly. And this is not unusual. This happens a lot when we go to Spain. Paris it happened, Italy in the past as well. It seems to be several particular police forces this happens with.

"But from what I understand it's the first time we've seen stewards armed with batons; although some people say they were in evidence in Atletico in September."

Following Wednesday night's match, Chelsea appealed for supporters to share information with them.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of incidents outside the ground before the game where a number of Chelsea fans were hurt.

"We ask that our supporters contact us with accounts of their experiences of this evening's arrival at the stadium so that we can take this up properly with the authorities."

Football Supporters Europe responded to fans' enquiries on Twitter by asking them for evidence.

"Any witness statement as well as pictures are essential to lobby authorities about the reoccurring problems with policing and stewarding in Spain," the organisation said.

Press Association

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