UEFA are investigating Borussia Dortmund for a violation of safety regulations after Dortmund police used pepper spray and batons on Tottenham fans attempting to enter the Westfalenstadion for last Thursday's Europa League match between the two clubs. 17 Spurs fans were injured during the incident, mostly from the use of the pepper spray.
Dortmund have been charged with a violation of Article 38 of the UEFA Safety and Security Regulations for a blocked stairway inside the ground, but the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust (THST) is looking for punishment for what happened outside the stadium too.
"As many of you will now have heard, a significant number of Spurs fans visiting Signal Iduna Park for our Europa League tie against Dortmund experienced serious problems entering the ground, with severe crushing and assaults by both Dortmund club stewards and the police," said the THST in an update on their website.
"We have also been contacted by one of the BVB fan groups expressing their concern at what happened. BVB fans were also caught in the crush and both sets of supporters helped each other amid some dangerous scenes. THFC has also registered its concern about the treatment of fans. Sadly, the Dortmund police seem to have moved quickly to pin the blame for what happened solely on Spurs fans."
The Dortmund police put out a statement last week detailing their view of the events: "At first the entrance gates were temporarily closed by the security service. They then reopened the entrances to confrontations between visiting fans and security service employees. Due to the conflicts, the gates had to be closed again, which was only possible through the support of police forces. In order to prevent an uncontrolled entrance of the followers of Tottenham, pepper spray and batons were used by the police."
Fan crushes inside and outside stadiums are a problem that English fans know all too much about. The Hillsborough disaster of 1989 immediately comes to mind, during which 96 people died in a human crush during a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. Originally the Liverpool fans were blamed during a police cover-up, but the real blame for the incident was eventually and rightfully laid at the feet of the police and their failed crowd control efforts.
THST officials were able to meet with Dortmund club officials after the game in Germany, and they plan to do so again when BVB come to London for the return leg this Thursday. It is not yet clear in what form Dortmund will be punished for the events of last Thursday. The UEFA hearing for the incident is not scheduled until May, so the punishments will probably not take effect until next season.
According to the Standard, a Spurs official made the following statement after the Dortmund match.
The misdirection of our fans by police along with the closing of turnstiles created a potentially dangerous situation. The use of pepper sprays was completely unnecessary and unacceptable. We arranged for our fans to meet with officials of Borussia Dortmund immediately after the game. We have also spoken to officials at the club and they have taken on board our concerns.
The second leg between the two sides will be played this Thursday with Dortmund holding a 3-0 advantage heading into the match.