Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust recognise that THFC staff worked hard prior to, and during the match to plan for the visit and to ensure Spurs fans were treated properly and kept safe. In planning meetings with the Club prior to the trip, we identified and pushed back on several issues where we could see difficulties or potential hazards – some of which the Club achieved some adaptations on, some of which the Italian club and authorities would not move on.
As it turned out, many aspects of the trip were unsatisfactory and THST call on UEFA to be much more proactive in ensuring that fans are safe when visiting stadia abroad. In the same week that UEFA were held responsible for the risk to supporters at the Champions League Final, we call on them to raise their game for all UCL matches. There should be minimum requirements which are inspected and approved by UEFA officials before these matches take place and fans’ safety has to come before profit.
We have a large body of evidence of supporter experience in Milan of which this is a summary:
Getting to the Match:
- Supporters had a good experience of visiting Milan centre – there was a low-key police presence and no trouble.
- Travel to the stadium was a challenge because of overcrowding on the Metro.
- When leaving San Siro Metro, away fans were led round the stadium, held in various gated areas before finally being allowed in. Supporters were directed through car parks to a designated gate. This car park had a barrier across the entrance and supporters had to climb under it to access the route, or squeeze through a gap less than a metre wide. There were no Milan staff or police to direct away fans en route, and it was also not clearly signposted where to go from the metro. Many of those who arrived early, as requested, went through the wrong car park and ended up in the Milan fans area.
- The metro station is only five minutes from the stadium. Supporters describe arriving almost an hour before kick-off as advised, but only just getting into the stadium as the match started.
- Searching of supporters in general admission area was disproportionate and unnecessary – one woman describes the steward apologising as they put their hands inside her bra and between her legs. This did not happen to women in the home sections or the Cat 1 seating area.
- Supporters were told they had to bring their original ID documents (passports for UK citizens) which is a security risk. There were no names on match tickets so it’s hard to see why they were required, or why a photocopy would not have sufficed. In the event, passports were not checked.
- One fan lost their passport and travel documents at the stadium and it was only because it was handed to Spurs staff, who took the trouble to phone their home, find this fan’s location and send the documents by taxi to the airport, that the supporter was able to catch their early morning flight.
- Supporters were told they were not allowed to bring phone battery chargers – also a security risk.
In the stadium:
- It is not acceptable that there are so few toilets for general admission away fans and that these are a hole in the floor for men and women, as well as those who are ambulant but with disabilities. There were no lights and no locks on the door. There was no toilet paper and no soap. This is well below any level of acceptable provision. One supporter described them as being “..like something from Alcatraz.”
- The Milan stewards did not properly show people where their seats were. Supporters were crammed in, some describe watching the first 15 minutes standing on the stairs and then eventually finding a spot near the back. Once the game had kicked off no Milan stewards or police officers were seen in many parts the away end. Supporters were very grateful to see Spurs stewards but obviously they have a limited sphere of influence in an away stadium. Some seating was covered with tarpaulin, and there were mixed messages about whether people had to sit in their own seats.
- Raking was very steep and some supporters were seen to fall on the stairs.
- There was one tiny kiosk to buy water (no alcohol was available). Supporters had to queue to pay, collect a ticket then give it to someone else who would pour a bottle of water into a paper cup. AC Milan had assured the Club there would be food, coffee, low-alcohol beer available in the away section.
Leaving the stadium:
Supporters are all too used to being held in after the match but we were assured that this would be kept to 30 minutes and that there would still be plenty of Metro trains available.
- Spurs fans were held in the stadium for longer and eventually left the stadium by the circular ramps. However, they were then held in at the bottom for a considerable length of time in an alarming crush with, as throughout the experience, no communication and no sign of any Milan staff.
- As supporters left the stadium, they were faced with unacceptable level of risk in a completely unsupervised crush to enter the Metro. No other routes back into the city were publicised to alleviate this pinch point. In fact, trams were running until much later but this wasn’t communicated by AC Milan as a method of transport back to the city centre.
- One supporter describes the situation: “As for the crush at the bottom of the stairs into the Metro, after the game, this was worryingly alarming to be in. An over-zealous employee trying to shut a gate, telling people he didn’t care when they were pleading with him, only to be told to turn around and go back up with more people pushing down, was completely ignorant of the situation. This could have got out of hand very easily and been avoided with some basic stewarding at the top of the stairs. There was none around. Fortunately, he could not close the gate.”
- Once supporters had survived the crush into the Metro and boarded a train, they were made to leave the train at Garibaldi and there were no onward trains. Because of the huge numbers of people involved there were nowhere near enough cabs available to complete the journey. Those that did manage to get one, were being charged 35-40 euros for a 2 mile journey.
- Because of no battery packs being allowed many people at this point had run out of phone battery so even walking back to hotels was a risk, and not everyone knew how to get there without using online maps.
There is a perception amongst fans that there is no point in complaining about this kind of treatment and that ultimately no-one cares, and won’t care, until lives are lost. We must fight against this. THST and other supporters groups are doing what they can to highlight the issue and demand changes.
We believe that the Gold Standard is seen at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, not just in the facilities provided, but also in the way away supporters are treated. From the seat allocation, the entry and exit strategies, the catering provision, the stewarding and measured response to supporters, and queue management for transportation after the match.
UEFA would do well to ensure that other clubs adhere to minimum standards of safety and understand that the vast majority of football supporters are well behaved and seek merely to follow their team home and away in a safe and enjoyable manner. It is down to UEFA to ensure that these supporters are safe and that disaster is averted.