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Uefa charge Arsenal and Cologne over fan violence at Europa League clash

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, said he feared that Arsenal's match would be called off due to the fan disturbances.
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, said he feared that Arsenal's match would be called off due to the fan disturbances. Reuters/Michael Dalder

European football's governing body Uefa on Friday charged Arsenal and Cologne with a range of offences following scuffles and five arrests for bad behaviour before and after their Europa League match at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.

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Cologne face four charges after their fans were accused of setting off fireworks, throwing missiles and smashing up equipment.

Arsenal, who are playing in the European football's second tier competition for the first time in nearly two decades, are in the dock over blocked stairways in the away supporters section.

The disciplinary charges follow a tense build-up to the opening game in Group H. Cologne's supporters were given the standard allocation of 3,000 tickets for the tie. But an estimated 20,000 arrived in London for the match.

A massed block of supporters marched through the streets approaching the stadium prompting concerns of clashes with home fans.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted that he feared the match would be abandoned. "I thought they would not play the game, because I could not see the police taking any risk," he said.

"We live in a society of 100% security and I thought they would never take a gamble to play this game when I saw the images around the stadium. But I must say our supporters dealt well with the situation as well and there was no aggravation."

The fixture started more than 60 minutes late. At half-time, the home faithful might have been wishing for a postponement as their side went in trailing 1-0 to a spectacular 40 metre lob from Jhon Cordoba.

But parity was restored five minutes after the pause. Second-half substitute Sead Kolasinac volleyed home and Chile international Alexis Sanchez gave the hosts the lead mid way through the half. Hector Bellerin added gloss to the scoreline eight minutes from time.

"It's difficult to say whether the delay affected us," said Wenger after the victory. "The late start was obviously the same for Cologne. We had some problems to get going. I don't know if it was mental or the fact they scored the first goal. But our game was a bit too slow at the beginning."

Uefa's control, ethics and disciplinary committee will consider the case on 21 September. Before then Arsenal's executives will hold a review of their procedures. "We worked with our colleagues at Cologne to stop supporters travelling without match tickets," said a club statement.

"We would like to stress that fan safety was always our paramount concern and informed all decisions made. A full review into the circumstances surrounding the game will ensure any lessons that can be learned are used in the future."

Cologne coach Peter Stoger refused to be questioned about the actions of his club's supporters: "I have no comment about the fans," he said. "I'm the coach. My job is the team. My job is football, not the fans."

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