DUTCH club AZ Alkmaar apologised for a “pitch black evening” after sections of their own support attacked family and friends of the West Ham United squad celebrating their success in Thursday’s Europa Conference League semi-final. Home supporters broke through a fence and attacked the West Ham contingent seated in a reserved section behind their own team’s dugout at the AZ Stadium.
A brawl ensued in which West Ham players, including captain Declan Rice, attempted to intervene, with several running to the aid of relatives.
Police and stewards were quickly on the scene to prevent further confrontation and calm was restored after 10 minutes. “While everyone hoped for a historic European match, it turned into a pitch black eve- ning due to the events occurring at the referee’s final whistle,” AZ said in a statement yesterday. “It turned into a night to reflect on with shame. Not because of the football game played, but because of the behaviour of some visitors. Unfortunately, we cannot use the word ‘supporters’ for these people. “What happened is beyond all bounds.
The club again sincerely apologises to West Ham United and the thousands of well minded AZ supporters who have also been inconvenienced by the misconduct.” The club said that together with the police, Public Prosecution Service, and Alkmaar’s municipality they would review footage to evaluate “exactly what happened, how it could have happened and what needs to be improved”.