Last Thursday night saw West Ham United qualify for their first European final in 47 years, sparking delirium in one corner of the AZ Alkmaar stadium.
Although it took until injury-time of the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final, when Pablo Fornals burst through and fired home, to confirm the Hammers place in the final, the truth is that they were good value for the result.
It’s no wonder that the players, supporters and their families celebrated wildly after the final whistle.
However, in so doing, it appeared to spark the ire of the local ultra supporters who stormed the family area where the West Ham player’s wives, girlfriends and other relatives were sat.
Incredible this, AZ Alkmaar fans storming into the section where the West Ham players families and friends are to attack them.
If this was an English club causing the trouble, they’d be banned from European football for years.pic.twitter.com/luMhzNwDK9
— Football Away Days (@FBAwayDays) May 18, 2023
Once it became clear what was happening, there was a natural reaction from some of the Hammers stars to rush and protect their families.
That action could seemingly have landed them in hot water with the authorities, however.
According to The Telegraph (subscription required), UEFA could be set to ban Arsenal target Declan Rice, Said Benrahma, Flynn Downes and Michail Antonio from European competition because of their actions.
The suggestion is that UEFA may wait until after the final to impose sanctions but if they are going to charge Alkmaar supporters for essentially committing the same act, they’re left with little option to do the same with the players involved.
That’s likely to spark a huge backlash in football circles as it would set a remarkable precedent moving forward and alienate UEFA even more than they currently are.
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