Manchester United Supporters Trust write to the mayor of Bruges to complain about ‘treatment’ of fans
“Are you not ashamed of the way visitors to your city were treated?”: Manchester United Supporters Trust writes to mayor of Bruges to complain about the “regrettable treatment” of their fans at Europa League
- Manchester United pulled 1-1 last week with Club Brugge in the Europa League
- United fans want to know why the police were so hostile to remote supporters
- The MUST say that sometimes many fans were really afraid of their safety
The Manchester United Supporters Trust have written the mayor of Bruges to complain about the ‘regrettable treatment’ of their fans at last week’s Europa League match in Belgium.
United fans ask to know why the local police were so hostile to supporters, a water cannon and barbed wire were present outside the Jan Breydel stadium and protective nets were used in the ground.
They claim that United fans were also stopped to leave the stadium with security gates that had to be locked, which led to fear of a crush inside.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust have filed a complaint with the mayor of Bruges
There were also complaints that English fans were taken out of buses and access to taxis was denied, meaning that they had to walk to and from the ground in cold and wet conditions.
In an open letter to Dirk De fauw, the mayor of Bruges, I MUST have asked a series of questions in response to “the worst experience of a European away match in years”.
It says: “We are sorry and deeply concerned that we are writing this open letter to all of you, but as representatives of law-abiding supporters and members, we have no other option but to emphasize in this way the regrettable treatment we have undergone during our visit to Bruges, by the local police and stewards.
“It is no exaggeration to say that many fans were really scared of their safety all evening.
“Many of us who have followed the MUFC believe that this was the worst experience of a European away match they had had for years – and our previous recent visit to Bruges (in 2015) was a low point at the time.
“It was a long walk in horrible weather from the city to the stadium. A significant number of our supporters were older or had mobility problems, which meant that this was a major problem.
“Local authorities who arrange buses for us are the norm for most of our away games. Instead, the police stopped buses before they reached the ground and forcefully removed United fans and told them to walk.
“The crowd management in the vicinity of the stadium was terrible, because many of our fans complain that they had been deliberately sent in the wrong direction on long detours. Is there no coordinated plan from the club, stewards and police for visiting supporters?
“The almost universal hostility of the police when they were approached for help / directions further suggests that this was part of a broader and deliberate provocation policy. Why was the police instructed to act so antagonistic.
“Why was it necessary to use a water cannon, where was the evidence that maybe one was needed? Why was it necessary to use barbed wire barriers for a soccer game?
“Why is netting used when no previous rockets have been thrown by Manchester United fans during previous visits?
The United players cheer their supporters after their draw with Club Brugge last week
“Why couldn’t fans leave the stadium? Why were the exit gates locked, which led to the accumulation of crowds and the risk of falling in love, both at the exit of the hall and at the bottom of the stairs?
“In the second half, the Chief Steward – who seemed afraid of developments and said this would be the last night he would be working here – revealed that he no longer had the exit key as the police had taken it and there was no one in it the neighborhood the gate that could open it even in an emergency.
“Poor treatment is a problem, but the security problems go much further than that and we will send a report to UEFA with an overview of the problems that our supporters have sent us.”
MUST emphasize the treatment Club Brugge fans can expect in Manchester when they visit Old Trafford on Thursday for the second leg. The first game was played 1-1.
The letter concluded: “Finally we want to reassure Club Brugge supporters that they will receive a warm welcome to Manchester next week and will not categorically experience the same barbed wire, water cannons, poor crowd management, stewarding and police that our fans had to endure when visiting your city. Bruges supporters who visit Old Trafford also have an unobstructed view of the field without gauze and a roof to keep them dry when it rains.
“We would be ashamed if visitors to Manchester were treated as described above – aren’t you ashamed of the way visitors to your city were treated?”