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“Dismay, anger & frustration” – West Ham fans on UEFA ban

UEFA stunned West Ham United fans recently when they banned away fans from attending the next European away game with barely a week’s notice. Here Sue Watson from the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association (WHUISA) talks about the disappointment in East London…

As the 2020-2021 season drew to a close the West Ham supporters in the London Stadium could be heard chanting “We’re all going on a European Tour”. 

The euphoria of earning that place through our results and the expectations for what could follow was high. 

With pride and anticipation we started the 2021-222 season, our European tour stretching ahead of us. 

Tickets for all the away fixtures sold out within an hour of release. Such is the desire to follow West Ham United, as we say “over land and sea.” 

The campaign to reach the knockout phase started away at Zagreb mid-September. Roared on by the West Ham faithful we achieved positive result after positive result both away and at the London Stadium. 

Then came the Genk away game on 4th November. Again a sell out. Anticipation high, performance strong and still no loss in our European campaign. 

The next away game against Rapid Wein in Vienna was only 21 days later but that wouldn’t stop the 1,700 who secured tickets to the game.

1,700 West Ham United supporters who booked leave, made personal arrangements, paid for travel, paid for accommodation, paid for any COVID-19 procedures necessary – looking forward to Vienna, looking forward to our continued European experience. 

So the ruling by UEFA on Monday 15th, 11 days after the Genk game and just over a week to the Vienna game, resulted in a massive outburst of shock, dismay, anger, frustration and  many other negative responses.

A real “What the Hell” moment

Several aspects of the whole scenario are just adding to this frustration. The timing of the judgment when tickets have been sold and supporters have laid out significant amounts of money does make one question how UEFA view supporters; or appreciate in the post COVID-19 world, how the decision will affect them financially. 

Football Supporters Europe (FSE) have questioned the proportionality of the punishment and the appropriateness. 

They have long campaigned against blanket bans seeing them as an ineffective tool. They have a fair point. The overwhelming number of travelling supporters went to Gent, roared, chanted, sang the team on, enjoyed the experience then went home. 

Now the Club has issued a statement confirming they will NOT appeal UEFA’s decision whilst stating their disappointment at the extremely short notice of the penalties. Penalties not just levied at West Ham United but levied against 1,700 loyal supporters.  

“We’re all going on a European Tour” – just not to Vienna now.

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