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West Ham players defend friends and families from violent AZ fans

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West Ham players were forced to defend their friends and family from angry AZ Alkmaar fans as violent scenes erupted after they beat the Dutch side to reach the Europa Conference League final.

AZ supporters broke through a fence and attacked the West Ham contingent seated in a reserved section at the AZ Stadium. A brawl ensued in which West Ham players attempted to intervene.

Police and stewards then arrived on the scene to prevent further confrontation and calm was restored 10 minutes later.

Manager David Moyes said: “We’ll need to wait for the dust to settle to see what it is but the biggest problem is that is the area where the players have all their families in, friends and family.

“That is where the problem came and a lot of players were getting angry because they couldn’t get to see if they were okay. But look, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and ask the officials what really happened.”

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Match-winner Fornals says he did not see much of the violence as he tried to keep his team-mates inside away from the trouble but is worried about the welfare of their friends and families.

“I didn’t see a lot because I don’t have any one here watching me [on Thursday],” he told Terryanews. “I hadn’t anyone to watch in that area and when the referee whistled at the end I threw myself to the floor and cried like a kid.

“After that I went inside and tried to keep the guys in because we don’t need that as players. I am really concerned about the families of my team-mates, hopefully everyone is OK and the police can do their job and realise who did it.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see their family being kicked. It’s not great when you are in that beautiful moment and people who isn’t in the same moment are trying to use violence against you.

“We cant do anything else just try to help the police to realise who did it and pray for the family of my people being good.”

AZ boss Pascal Jansen said: “What happened last week was very unfortunate and then you get the same feeling as what happened tonight.

“I feel a little bit ashamed it happened in our stadium but you have to control your emotions.”

Former Hammers midfielder Joe Cole, who was part of the team covering the match, said what happened was “absurd”.

“Grown men attacking the West Ham fans,” he said. “Players were trying to get involved to break it up.

“AZ Alkmaar fans turning up wearing balaclavas throwing punches is ridiculous. There were families.”

UEFA will wait for the reports from the match officials and delegates before deciding next steps.

Written by Ibrahim Oladamola

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