Thursday night’s Europa Conference League clash between AZ Alkmaar and West Ham United turned extremely ugly after the full-time whistle. West Ham progressed to the final of the competition with a 1-0 win (3-1 on aggregate), and a group of AZ supporters responded violently.
AZ fans broke through a fence and attacked the family section of the AFAS stadium. Friends and family of the West Ham players and staff were sitting in the section when the mayhem unfolded. AZ defender Pantelis Chatzidiakos has since revealed that his family were sitting in the same area during the game.
Speaking to NOS after the game, Chatzidiakos said ‘I think it’s sad what happened. My family was up there. I got in touch with them and my friend said they were shaking.’ The 26-year-old Greek international added ‘My Greek grandmother had come here from Rhodes especially for this match.’
Furious with the fans that broke through the fence in the Van der Ben Tribune, Chatzidiakos said ‘I don’t even call them supporters. I think it’s very sad what they did. This just can’t happen. You should come to the stadium to watch the game and cheer on your club. Just stay at home if you have such intentions. Such a beautiful evening, such an atmosphere, it was wonderful to be able to play football in such an atmospheric stadium. I really enjoyed it, until the final whistle. What happened after that, I find incredibly sad and unfortunate.’
AZ are likely to face punishment from UEFA, who are set to review the situation before making a decision. Speaking about a potential punishment, Chatzidiakos said ‘Just think about it. Maybe because of these disturbances, you will play two games without a crowd next season. Suppose we play in the preliminary round of the Europa League then, we need the support of the public.’