AZ Alkmaar fined £68,000 after fans tried to storm area in which West Ham players’ friends and family were seated during Europa Conference League clash… in which ‘Knollsy’ went viral for fending off Dutch ultras
- Crowd trouble marred the end of May’s Europa Conference League clash
- AZ Alkmaar fans tried to storm an area where relatives of players were sitting
- Hammers fan Knollsy went viral for video clips of him fighting off Dutch ultras
AZ Alkmaar have been fined £68,770 after their supporters tried to storm an area in which West Ham players’ friends and family were seated during their Europa Conference League clash in May.
The Dutch side were also ordered to play one UEFA competition match behind closed doors – though that sanction has been suspended for two years.
Violence broke out at the AFAS Stadion in the Netherlands, after Pablo Fornals’ stoppage time goal gave the Hammers a 3-1 aggregate lead in the second leg of the semi final on May 18.
Hammers supporter Chris Knoll – better known as Knollsy – went viral in the aftermath from clips of him fighting Dutch ultras single-handedly.
A UEFA statement broke down the fine as £6,115 for throwing of objects, £12,870 for lighting fireworks, £6,867 for blocking public passageways and £42,918 for crowd disturbances and failing to ensure that spectators cannot move from one section of the stand to another.
AZ Alkmaar have been fined for the crowd trouble that marred the end of West Ham’s Europa Conference League semi-final victory over the Dutch side back in May
‘Knollsy’ (left) went viral after fending off Dutch ultras who attempted to get into a section of the stand where the families and friends of Hammers players were sitting for the match
A gang of black-shirted, hooded AZ Alkmaar ultras attempted to storm the area reserved for friends and family behind the dugout.
Players including Michail Antonio, Said Benrahma, Aaron Cresswell and Flynn Downes climbed over the advertising hoardings in a bid to stop the trouble.
AZ, who went on to finish fourth in the Eredivisie to secure a place in the third qualifying round of the same competition next season, issued a swift apology over what it described as a night of ‘shame’.
A statement said: ‘While everyone hoped for a historic European match, it turned into a pitch-black evening due to the events occurring at the referee’s final whistle.
‘It turned into a night to reflect on with shame, not because of the football game played, but because of the behaviour of some attending. Unfortunately, we cannot use the word ‘supporters’ for these people.
‘What happened is beyond all bounds. The club again sincerely apologises to West Ham and the thousands of well-minded AZ supporters who have also been inconvenienced by the misconduct.’
AZ Alkmaar issued 43 stadium bans in the wake of the violence, with several arrests made after Dutch police issued deadlines for those involved to surrender.
West Ham fan Knollsy was left with a black eye following the drama of May 18.
West Ham star Jarrod Bowen seen watching the dramatic scenes, while other players including Michail Antonio and Said Benrahma climbed over the advertising hoardings
Knollsy was seen at West Ham’s next game against Leeds sporting a black eye
He was dubbed the ‘Angel of Alkmaar’ with Hammers goalkeeper Alphonse Areola describing him as a ‘hero’.
Knollsy told Mail Sport: ‘I’m not a hero. I just did what I had to do. There was another guy who was fending them off. I don’t like bullies and just had to try and stop them.
‘I just thought the best form of defence was to attack. You could see they were intent of causing trouble and I did not want them to get to those behind us.’
He was then given a standing ovation in the Hammers next game, a 3-1 victory over Leeds the same week.
Knollsy was given a ticket for the Europa Conference League final, where the Hammers clinched the trophy with a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina.
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