The Guardian notes:
Uefa has pledged to “pay close attention” to the treatment of away supporters at Marseille after accepting the complaints of Manchester United fans who were beaten by police and subjected to dangerous crushes.
Marseille, who host Arsenal on 19 October, have changed the away access at the Stade Vélodrome after Uefa started to investigate the incidents before and after United’s match in France in the last 16 of the Champions League in February.
Various supporters’ groups, including Reds Away, have been working with the Football Supporters’ Federation to instigate a full Uefa inquiry after reports of fans being kept in a holding area, known as Hall 7, before the match and struck with batons. After the game there was only one gate to leave through and more reports of injuries.
Uefa’s head of match-day operations, Marl Vouillamoz, has now written to the federation to say he has “no reason to doubt the veracity of the supporters’ accounts of events” and that there was “a negative attitude on the part of the police to supporters in general”.
Vouillamoz wrote that “Uefa will be paying close attention to the treatment of away supporters at this venue during the coming season”, although he indicated the trouble was caused by “the late arrival of many United supporters and the disorderly behaviour of a small minority”.
Uefa has studied a security report from Marseille’s home game last month against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League to discover whether the United incident was a one-off or part of something more serious.
“We will be talking to Marseille,” Vouillamoz writes. “It is, however, of interest that the report highlights an improvement in the access arrangements for away supporters and an improvement in facilities in Hall 7. These changes include better queuing systems and control … and escorting of smaller groups than those on previous occasions.”
The Guardian has been told by senior figures in Greater Manchester police they were deeply unhappy about the actions of their French counterparts, believing them to be “baton-happy” and ignoring the advice of the officers who regularly travel with United’s supporters and had warned many fans would arrive late.
While it’s a shame that the ‘late arrival of United supporters’ is still being cited as a reason for such deplorable behaviour by the Marseille police, at least unlike previous away treatment, the incident hasn’t been totally swept under the carpet.
Could you imagine the furore if GMP used the draconian methods employed by many continental police forces when dealing with fans at Old Trafford?
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