Football: FA condemns fan violence

As bottles and other debris litter the street, riot police armed with shields take up their positions beside the Manchester United team bus, which was damaged in the pre-game attack on Tuesday.
As bottles and other debris litter the street, riot police armed with shields take up their positions beside the Manchester United team bus, which was damaged in the pre-game attack on Tuesday.
Winston Reid (left) scores the third goal for West Ham, sealing a 3-2 victory against Manchester United on Tuesday. It was the last goal to be scored at Upton Park.
Winston Reid (left) scores the third goal for West Ham, sealing a 3-2 victory against Manchester United on Tuesday. It was the last goal to be scored at Upton Park. PHOTOS: REUTERS
A West Ham fan takes a selfie outside Upton Park, before the elaborate commemorative celebrations drew down the final curtain on 112 years of football at the historic venue.
A West Ham fan takes a selfie outside Upton Park, before the elaborate commemorative celebrations drew down the final curtain on 112 years of football at the historic venue.

Investigation to put focus on bus attack as West Ham propose life bans for culprits

LONDON • English football authorities launched an investigation after fans pelted Manchester United's team bus with cans and bottles, injuring two people and delaying the last-ever game at West Ham's Boleyn Ground on Tuesday.

United players took refuge on the floor of the coach after it was held up near the stadium by chanting fans who hurled dozens of missiles and let off smoke bombs, as mounted police tried to keep order.

The bus was left with gaping holes in the protective glass covering its windows in the ugly scenes, which held up kick-off for 45 minutes.

The incident carried echoes of England's notorious hooliganism of the 1980s and overshadowed the final game after 112 years at the Boleyn Ground, also known as Upton Park.

The Football Association and police both said they would investigate the incident. During the game, won 3-2 by West Ham, United goalkeeper David de Gea also appeared to have bottles thrown at him after his team's first goal.

"The FA strongly condemns the unsavoury incidents this evening involving both the Manchester United team coach outside West Ham United's Boleyn Ground and objects thrown from a section of the home support during the game," it said.

"We will work closely with both clubs and the Metropolitan Police to fully investigate these matters."

A short video surfaced on Twitter which seemed to be filmed by midfielder Jesse Lingard and showed Manchester United's players lying on the floor of the bus.

Lingard could be seen pulling faces at the camera and shouting "Mummy, mummy!" as players shouted, laughed and swore.

Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Adnan Januzaj, all wearing their club suits, were seen squeezed together on the floor in the aisle between the seats.

Captain Wayne Rooney later said the vehicle was "smashed up".

"We know it's a big game for West Ham, a big night for them, leaving the stadium, but I'm sure West Ham as a club will be disappointed with what the fans have done," Rooney told Sky Sports television.

United manager Louis van Gaal echoed Rooney, saying: "What do I have to tell? The images tell everything.

"The way we have been received is not the proper way."

Police said that one officer and a member of the public were injured, but there were no arrests.

West Ham, meanwhile, have promised to ban for life any supporters who are identified following the trouble and said in a statement: "We are aware that there were some supporters outside the Boleyn Ground who didn't act in an appropriate way when the Manchester United team bus was damaged.

"That was not acceptable and we will work with the police to identify those responsible and ban them for life."

Van Gaal suggested the pre-match trouble might have affected some of his players, although he refused to use it as an excuse for a result that damaged his club's hopes of Champions League qualification.

"We live in this world," said the Dutchman.

"It is not the first time it happens. OK, I have a long experience in football but there are players who don't have the (same) experience, so it shall have an influence.

"But we don't need to have excuses. We chased the match in the second half and we were 2-1 ahead, so we don't have to look for the excuse."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'FA condemns fan violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe