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Legia Warsaw Fans Appear in Court after Charges Filed from Violence Before Aston Villa Game

December 2, 2023

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Police have filed charges against the Legia Warsaw fans who were arrested for violent disorder outside Villa Park on Thursday night before a Europa Conference League game against Aston Villa.

All but one of the 46 men arrested were due to appear on Saturday in a special court set up in Birmingham to begin hearing the cases, West Midlands Police said.

“We are continuing to review CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects in what was an appalling and violent public disorder,” police said in a statement Saturday.

Most of the defendants are from Poland and a “small number” are UK residents, police said. They range in age from 21 to 63.

Two of the men were charged with assaulting police officers, and one was charged with possession of a knife. The rest were charged with a public order offense. One man had been bailed to appear in court at a later date.

Five police officers sustained minor injuries. Two police dogs and two police horses are also recovering from injuries.

On Friday, Aston Villa filed a complaint with UEFA over the conduct of Legia Warsaw officials and the “unprecedented violence” of the Polish team’s fans.

More than 1,000 Polish fans arrived to the stadium but weren’t given their tickets.

The Warsaw club had been upset that local officials who license all stadium events required the ticket allocation be reduced from 1,700 to 1,000 in response to disorder by Legia fans at an Oct. 5 game against AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.

The Polish club’s officials confirmed at 4 p.m. that they would accept their ticket allocation and then were handed the tickets when they arrived at Villa Park at 6:16 p.m., Villa said.

Villa won the game 2-1. The away fans section of the stadium was empty.

In a statement, Legia said Villa “bears full responsibility” for the situation.

“Our responsibility extends only to individuals entering the visitors’ sector with tickets distributed by us,” the club said. “No club should be held accountable for the actions of unidentified individuals without tickets for the match.”

Reducing the ticket allocation “contributed to the escalation of tensions,” Legia said.

The Polish club said it had returned the tickets to Villa “due to the inability to authenticate and distribute tickets effectively.”

Legia fans were also involved in violent clashes with police during a game at Leicester in 2021.

“As a club,” Legia said, “we are committed to upholding the highest standards in line with UEFA regulations. We expect reciprocal conduct from other club representatives. We remain prepared to present further evidence to UEFA regarding the actions of the British police and Aston Villa F.C.”

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